At what point did I start hiding from my kids? You spend a good chunk of your adolescence running around behind parents’ backs, sneaking and stumbling around hoping they don’t notice that you aren’t sober. I went to boarding school so the sneaking around bit was amplified by it being teachers I was hiding from. Breaking curfew, crawling down the balcony to break into the boy’s dorms and hiding the stash of vodka were all part of the thrill of being 16. Then you grow up and get to have fun without hiding. Still a party but without the risk and thrill of being caught. ‘Till you have kids. At first they are too young and unsuspicious. They think we are saints and when we are out of earshot we are simply still being parents, planning the next birthday party or surprise. I remember lying in bed when I was around 7 or 8 and and hearing Roberta Flack playing really loud barely masking the sounds of my parents and their friends laughing. I wondered what they were doing. How could they be having so much fun without me?
Then at a certain point the kids grow wise and suspicious. We have a Very Important Rule in our house. No one can disturb Mommy and Daddy’s saturday nap. Ever. Unless someone is bleeding. And now we have another rule. If adults are in the sun room ( my “sin room”) at night, children cannot come in.
My 11 year old always tells me “I know what you are doing, Mama.”
“What?” I say, trying not to look nervous.
“You are smoking!”
“Yes.” I sigh. “But it is a really bad thing and you shouldn’t know about it or see me doing it”
“But why Mama? It’s okay. You’re allowed to have a cigarette sometimes. I don’t mind”.
So now I am getting permission from my daughter.
Yesterday I was busted. She came into a room while a friend and I were leaning out of a window, cigarettes in hand. “Urggggg.” I exhaled.
I am running around behind their backs, sneaking cigarettes. I am only a social smoker, never alone, never in day light and never without drink in hand. I want them to know that smoking is Really Bad. But I also want them to know that by hiding it I am being a hypocrite, doing it but passing the message on that is is not a good idea. It is all just a silly game.
The eldest was standing in the room while my friend and I, moments after being busted, were in the kitchen discussing how to mix the best Mohito. Once we realized it was too strong, since my husband hadn’t realized that he had picked up 70% proof rum at the store, we decided to split the mix into two jugs. Then, of course, we had to squeeze more limes, melt more sugar. The whole process was taking a long time. The eldest, at the very least will be a pro mohito maker at her parties. But what I am teaching them? Where is the good example? Is this a case of do as I say and not do as I do?
Like many evenings and weekends here in Trinidad they are seeing a lot of drinking. They don’t see any one drunk or foolish but they do see us having an excellent time. I worry that I am condoning drinking and smoking. But why should I be a saint, all sensible and pure and no fun just so that my kids will grow up untainted by the sight of their mom laughing up a storm, cocktail glass in hand.
Now that their bedtime gets later and later they just seem to be around all the time. This is almost always a good thing. Sometimes, though, it is just sweet to be a grown and not a sensible one.
It’s not like this is some episode of Weeds. Aren’t I just a grown up bon vivant? What to do?