My daughter has to go through an online alcohol education program for one of her college courses this fall. Working on it with her this weekend, I was amused by two things: how much experience it assumed a college freshman would have with alcohol, and how much that ticked my daughter off.
The makers of the program probably aren't wrong about college freshmen. I still have a few brain cells left from my first year in college, and oh boy, I could have used some alcohol education. I didn't drink in high school, but the college I chose happened to be a "party school," and the boys' wing around the corner from mine in our co-ed dorm was named The Hall of Mixed Drinks. I went from not drinking to drinking a LOT. And vomiting a lot. I am a small person. The line between "This feels great, I want more!" and "Whoops, too much" is frighteningly thin.
That's the sort of thing we expect of college freshmen, underage though they may be. My daughter, though, is genuinely appalled by it all, and offended that she's supposed to have any knowledge of this or any experience to share. We're not a big alcohol household these days. When my husband and I adopted our daughter and son from Russia in 1994, I still enjoyed a glass of wine or two at the end of the day (two getting me closer to that thin, thin line the older I got). But as we learned more about our son's fetal alcohol effects, and understood more about what alcohol had done to his brain, it became harder for me to justify enjoying something that hurt him, and to imagine how I could ever explain that to him. It just felt right to stop, in solidarity. Since my husband was never much of a drinker, it was easy to become a teetotaling household.
Of course, there are plenty of teens from teetotaling households who still experiment with alcohol. A couple of things have kept my girl from being one of them. For one, she doesn't have an adventurous bone in her body, God bless her. For another, I believe she has internalized a message that "Drinking alcohol makes you act like my brother." And she sure doesn't want to go there.
It's probably naive to think that she'll never want to try a drink. Honestly, given her anxiety issues, a small amount of alcohol would probably help her in social situations, though I'm not about to recommend it. One day, she may fall in with a friend or a boyfriend who will tempt her with liquor, and then I'll have to worry. For now, though, it's a huge comfort to see her shaking her head at alcohol quiz questions and saying, with annoyance, "Why would I know that!" For a change, I'm appreciating her cluelessness.