Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Alcohol and Kids

At a regular pediatric check-up as the doctor attempted to ascertain our family lifestyles, she asked about our alcohol consumption habits.

“Several nights a week my wife and I split a beer, on weekends we might have a bit more.”

“That’s fine,” the doctor nodded, “It is important that the adults in their life show moderate, responsible alcohol consumption”

“Right, and sometimes we give them a little taste…”

The doctors eyes became huge, “How very European of you!” she exclaimed as she considered whether or not to call child protective services.

MamaGoof and I enjoy an occasional drink, and we are beer enthusiasts and discuss in great detail the attributes of our libations. I grew up sipping wine at the dinner table. Pretty much every Jewish kid I know remembers getting drunk from super-sweet Manischevitz (#1 kosher wine in America!) at Pesach - the ceremony calls drinking four cups of wine. One consequence of this annual binge was that I could never find the afikomen. (Quick explanation: parents hide a piece of matzah during the Pesach meal and the kids find it and hold it for ransom. I cannot hope to explain the cultural meaning here.)

But maybe this early exposure works as a sort of inoculation against alcoholism. So we’ve taken the same attitude.

One evening, GoofBoy was little and before GoofGirl was born I had had a bad day at work (back then I went to an office like a regular grown-up). I poured myself a big cup of ice and whiskey and began sipping. GoofBoy toddled up, looked at me and said, “Uh!”

So I gave him the glass for a sip, figuring he wouldn’t like it and make his little sour face. Instead, his eyes got big and he said, “Mas! Mas!”

So I gave him some more. Turns out he had been teething so the whiskey and ice felt great on his sore little gums. He had had a lousy day too. So we sat there, quiet, sipping our whiskey and watching the sun go down. Then MamaGoof got us in our jammies and enjoyed the quiet.

A few years later, as I was sipping Scotch a toddler GoofGirl asked for some. I told her just a taste and gave it to her. She took a little sip, pursed her lips, shook her head and announced, “Scotch is spicy!”

That night, as it happens MamaGoof and I went to a Scotch party featuring many different fine scotches. I tasted many different fine scotches (Momma Goof drove and was a bit more moderate.)

The next morning, I lay in bed, the sunlight violently accosting my skull, and the first words I heard as MamaGoof went to change GoofGirl’s diaper was my daughter saying, “Mommy, scotch is spicy.”

“Go tell that to your father.”

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