Saturday, November 15, 2014

That's more like it, Nyquil I've beaten up on Huggies for their sexist advertising in the past, I feel responsible to cheer Nyquil for making a gender-neutral parenting commercial.  Actually, it kind of plays on an expectation that men work in offices.  The way the beginning is shot, we're supposed to believe this guy is telling his boss he's sick.  Then we get a little surprise when it reveals to whom he's really talking.
  It's not amazing.  It's not rocket science.  It just chooses to portray a father as a vital parent instead of a mother.  We need more like this.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What I Can and Can't Tell my Kids About Drugs

One can get the idea in our culture that everyone does drugs. Characters in TV shows and movies do drugs all the time, and video cameras capture ordinary people doing outlandish things while they're high.  As a parenting issue, Baby Boomer parents have had to wrestle with the question of how to discourage their kids from using drugs while being honest about their own "experimentation".  No doubt many of my Gen X peers face the same issue.  Call this the "I learned it by watching you" problem. I wrestle with a slightly different problem.

When I was in elementary school, first lady Nancy Reagan opened up the children's front in the war on drugs with the Just Say No campaign.  We heard at school and on TV that if we were offered drugs to have the courage to Just Say No because the size 2 lady in the White House said so.

Because I came of age in this milieu, I was always waiting for the moment when someone would push drugs on me.  It never happened.  Having been primed to Say No, it haunts me now slightly as a parent to say that I have never done it.  I have never said no to drugs.  

I don't have to figure out how to tell my kids to Say No when I Said Yes.  I get to tell my kids that I've never done drugs.  It feels Pollyanna to admit that, but it's true.  

Part of me, though, feels like a better story to teach my kids would be the one where someone offered me a bong hit that I refused or that when the roach got passed to me in a circle, I just kept passing it.  In a way, I feel like it would be better to tell them that I had the courage to say what Mrs. R. wanted me to say.  

But the fact is, I've never knowingly hung out with drug users.  "Knowingly" is a key word in that sentence.  My naivete tends to get revealed later.  Ten years after high school graduation, I found out that a pretty close classmate (lunch table close) dropped acid nearly every day.  Acid.  Every day.  I had no idea.  Attending Red Sox games as a kid, I always noted this strange smell in the right field bleachers at Fenway Park.  In college, a friend nudged me as we entered a dorm and said knowingly, "Smell that weed?"  I said, "That's not weed.  That's the right field bleachers at Fenway Park."  The Red Sox were bad in the '80s, and the fans had to get through somehow.  

My parents were protective, so I didn't attend a ton of high school parties.  Being a social outcast probably helped, too; I wasn't with the cool kids, who could presumably score drugs.  The kids in French Club and on my Bible quiz team didn't do drugs (again, as far as I knew).  My family were teetotalers.  Our church tradition required a commitment not to smoke or drink for membership.  The upshot was that no one ever offered to give or sell me drugs.  

I had personal reasons to be cautious if they had.  Two of my uncles spent prime years of their lives and my life estranged from the family in the throes of alcoholism.  Controlled substances flashed a danger sign.  I didn't start drinking alcohol until graduate school.  And at that, I took it up very slowly and cautiously with an informed moderation.

At this point, I can be deeply grateful about being sheltered.  I can be deeply grateful that I didn't have my after-school-special moment when I had to decide whether to yield to peer pressure.  Former drug user parents might envy my position, but still in a vacuum, I kind of envy theirs.  I can't tell my sons from direct experience about my regrets about using drugs.   What I really wish, though, is that I could tell them what it takes to marshal the courage to Say No.  When the guy with the joint is older and someone you admire.  When the girl with the little pill is really cute.  I never faced those situations.

The grass is always greener (pun noted but not rejected).  Nancy Reagan be damned; I can say a powerful thing to my kids:  

I have never used drugs.  Your mother has never used drugs.  It is possible to reach adulthood without doing drugs and then continue not doing drugs as an adult without ever Saying No.  Sticking with the nerd herd and the youth group meant I never needed to test my mettle against the temptation to fit in.  That worked out for me, and it can for you, boys.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Seasonally Appropriate Flashback: Casserole Week

Now that the weather in Pittsburgh has turned definitively cold and nasty, it feels like the right time to repost the recipes from casserole week.  I posted these originally in early May last year because I'd had a conversation with a friend who asked for favorite casserole recipes.  But given that we were about to shift into cooking things that focus on fresh produce and not turning on the oven, it was a funky time to post them.  That did not stop me.  So, if you're feeling casserole-ish, as I am, here's a refresher:

Sausage, Polenta and Tomato Layers - More people request this recipe from us than any other.  Of any kind.
Slow Cooker Baked Ziti - easy and tasty
Mexican Tortilla Casserole - good, easy, includes make-ahead instructions
Macaroni and Cheese Casserole -yum
Italian Easter Pie - OMG