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April 27, 2012

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It seems like only yesterday that I was having arguments with my girls about orange juice. No, they couldn’t have orange juice on demand, at any moment of the day or night, I used to tell them. My position was that it was bad for their teeth and water is the best drink anyway when you’re dying of thirst, which of course they always were. Yes, they could have it with meals, but not in between. It doesn’t sound draconian – unless you listened to the girls, who strongly believed they were being held in conditions which would make Sparta look like a luxury spa. Every now and then, my outpost would come under even more rabid attack than usual, when the girls returned from playdates with friends, who all seemed to have fountains running with freshly-squeezed juices or swimming pools full of, yikes, Fanta.

How I miss those battles now. We are just entering the much more complicated  arena of alcohol. I know that some parents of girls Child One’s age now buy their children alcohol to take to parties. Child One herself has been to parties where there is beer or wine. She’s had the odd sip of wine at the dinner table since she was a small girl, just to taste, usually accompanied by a face scrunched up tight in disgust. I know we are soon going to get to the point where she wants to take a bottle to parties. A large part of me wants to cross this bridge only when I come to it (and even then, I wouldn’t really mind a blindfold) but I know that’s not helpful. I really don’t mind her having the odd drink. I do mind, though, that she will, inevitably, one day, sooner or later, have too much to drink. We’ve all done it, maybe once, maybe often, but it is inevitable, I feel. And the consequences of drunkenness seem so much worse now than when I was that age – date rape drugs, unscrupulous rugby players, even packs of half-dressed girls lurching, stiletto-clad, all over town centres, embarrassing themselves and making our country an international laughing stock.

Alcohol is much more directly marketed at teens now than in my day. Then, if we were lucky, we could afford one of those vast brown plastic bottles of Thunderbird cider – which was absolutely horrible, and did cut down the amount anyone could bear to glug down. Now, you can get alcopops, caffeinated energy drinks with booze added, ready-mixed cocktails in handy cans and even trendy lagers and beers. It just all tastes a lot nicer, and it’s probably cheaper too.

If you’re worried about what to say to your teenager about drinking, pop along to Drinkaware – they have a lot of helpful advice that, with any luck, will keep all our children out of A & E on a Saturday night.

Bring back orange juice, I say.

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  • Addy April 28, 2012 at 11:18 am

    A good post. It is even worse once they reach 18 and go off to uni. Where Kay is, the clubs in the town offer cheap shots for £1 or even worse ten for £10 (who wants their offspring drinking ten shots in one night?!) I really do think we need to look radically at the alcohol licencing situation, but it would reduce the tax coffers considerably and what government would agree to that? Definitely bring back orange juice!

    • Dulwich Divorcee April 30, 2012 at 1:29 pm

      Thank you! As you know, alcohol is a very tricky subject ….. gosh I can’t believe they sell ten shots for a tenner! Surely that’s enough to have most people getting very ill?! Sounds completely irresponsible … and very appealing to teenagers. Sigh.

  • Naomi Richards April 29, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    Its very scary to think that my children will be drinking in 10 years time if not before. It is one of those subjects that needs to be broached delicately and I think many of us could use a bit of guidance on. Tricky teen subject!

    • Dulwich Divorcee April 30, 2012 at 1:30 pm

      It’s a really tricky one, particularly as I do like a glass of wine in the evenings so I have to be careful not to come across as a total hypocrite! Not easy being a grown up sometimes ….

  • janerowena April 30, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    I remember the occasion of my then 16yr-old daughter’s first drunken return from a party very clearly. She ‘phoned, sounding odd and saying that she wanted to stay the night. It was tempting, but my husband said no and went to fetch her. She went straight upstairs, hoping not to see me, and he entered the sitting-room trying to keep a straight face. We sat and listened as she was very, very loudly and repeatedly ill. I thought that perhaps I should go and help her, but was trying to hide anger and upset, I think. I went upstairs, and she was naked and grabbing the loo sides as if her life depended on it. I shifted her onto a very elderly quilt, put another over her and left her to it, and we went to bed.

    It didn’t stop her drinking, despite the sad face she drew on her blackboard the following day saying ‘I’ll never drink again….’ but she was never again as bad as that time, and has not touched Jack Daniels ever since! All that ‘Never mix grape and grain’ had obviously fallen on deaf ears.

    • Dulwich Divorcee May 1, 2012 at 2:11 pm

      Oh dear! The poor love …. very lucky your husband went to get her! Well, even if she still does drink now, I bet she remembers that night very clearly …. I’ve never liked Jack Daniels myself, yucky stuff 😉