Two disturbing party girls have sprung up in the media the past few days - one dead, one now internet famous. As a former party girl myself who happens to have three daughters now, I am terrified. To the bone. The latter is "Vodka Samm" the 22-year-old University of Iowa student whose frightening alcohol tolerance not only enabled her to stand after blowing a BAC of .341 (that's near-death, coma-level) but she was able to brag tweet from her phone while being in campus security jail. She's been rewarded with nearly 20,000 twitter followers who call her an "American hero" and encourage others to #keepup.
Then there's the party girl who died after telling paramedics she took six hits of ecstasy. (Oh, excuse me young birds, six hits of molly.) Dead. Just dead out of nowhere because she took a drug at a party. Six hits indeed is a lot, but it seems to be the consensus it was the quality of the drugs that did her in. It makes me wonder two things: Why did I live through my 20's? And two, is it too early to hog tie my three daughters? (Considering one won't even be born for a few more months, my guess is yes.)
Nothing will turn around a reaction to these stories from "what idiots! Darwin principle!" to genuine terror faster than having your own daughters. I didn't go to a big ten school and I had to work, which kept me out of a lot of shenanigans but there are nights of college (and a few years after) I don't remember. A friend once successfully played a prank on me by leaving me a voicemail asking why I gave a lap dance to her date in the middle of the restaurant. I was mortified. Why did I do that? Were there pictures? (No, because there was never a lap dance. If I hadn't been so blackout drunk, I would have known that.) Or what about the time a shitty friend left me downtown after she found some guy to go off with? Or the dates I went on where I took advantage of the all-you-can-drink free booze machine with a stranger? I'm not sure how I never wound up dead, diseased or raped. Luck?
I don't want to raise my daughters on luck.
Possible ways to combat the future problem of drugs and alcohol with my little girls:
A. Do the bad cop thing. If I ever catch you doing a drug I'll lock you down and you'll never see the light of day, missy! Alternate version: If I ever catch you drinking a drink you're out of my house! Wait. This never works. My parents tried versions of these on me and all it did was push me to alcohol. Kids are people, not dobermans. No one likes a hard rule with no explanation and getting rid of your child isn't guiding them.
B. Do the trashy party mom thing and say drinking is only okay in my house, where I can see it. This leads to other parents suing me when their child gets wrecked at my house and of course the inevitable arrest for contributing to the delinquency of minors. Some parents actually have this theory because they want to maintain the safe haven, but what about other peoples' kids? No one parties alone. Besides, Vodka Samm eventually left the nest and my girls will too. Better scratch this one.
C. Education. Accept that drugs and alcohol are a part of life and zapping them of their mystery might be half the battle. Not like I'd bring a case of beer home for my four and two-year-olds, but maybe the best way to combat substance abuse is like anything else, knowing what the hell is going on. Alcohol is a drug. See this beer? It has as much alcohol as this glass of wine. See this shot glass? It has as much alcohol as the beer because it's stronger. You want to stick with weaker drinks and always alternate an alcoholic drink with a glass of water. Don't take drinks from people you don't know at parties and never from anyone except the bartender or waitress on a date. Hard drugs? You have an uncle with schizophrenia. Stay away from psychedelics or you could wind up in a facility for the rest of your life. As for powders, look at yourself in the mirror with a straw up your nose. Does that look cool to you? Didn't think so.
I think keeping my girls busy with jobs and other responsibilities will go a long way to preventing Party Girl Syndrome. What if Vodka Samm had to work Saturdays and didn't have time to get coma drunk? Who is funding her lifestyle? Where are her parents? Did they choose A, B or C or nothing at all when it came to substance abuse prevention in their child? Where was the real jail as opposed to this "campus police" BS who let her keep her phone after detaining her?
So many questions, so few years between preschool and college.
UPDATE - I saw an ignorant, judgey comment about this post on Facebook that "the apple won't fall far from the tree" and "do as I say, not as I do". Seriously, what's the point of saying that? The "do" part I want my kids to know is how to drink responsibly. What has changed since I partied like it was 1999 (because it was 1999) is the social media reward element of getting in trouble. Now it's all about attention, whereas when I was working my way through school, drinking had consequences (that I sometimes suffered). My job as a parent is to love and guide my children and one of the tools in my arsenal is my experience.
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