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That Time My Kid Asked If I Ever Did Drugs

Photograph by Twenty20

My son came home with something terrifying the other day, something I wasn't prepared to handle: a badge from a school assembly that said, "Say no to drugs." I was immediately confused. My son is 6.

You know, I say no to drugs. And I definitely want my 6-year-old to say no to drugs. (Question: Is he being offered drugs?! IS SOMEONE OFFERING MY BABY DRUGS?!?! Ahem.) I just wasn't quite ready to have a talk with my first grader about drugs.

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The thought that I have to talk to him about this stuff already is overwhelming. When I was in the first grade, my biggest concern was how messy my penmanship was. Or remembering to put on my smock during arts and crafts. Clearly, the world has changed, and I needed to have a frank talk with my kid.

Spoiler alert: it did not go well.

It all began when he came off the bus and presented me with the ribbon. "I'm supposed to give this to you," he announced with a flourish.

"What is it?" I asked.

"It's a ribbon from our assembly today," he said. "We're supposed to talk about drugs with you."

We are? I thought. Hey, school, a little advanced warning might be nice.

"Drugs are bad," I said, channeling every sitcom dad ever. "Just don't do them."

"What are drugs?" my son asked. Did they not cover this in the assembly today?

"Drugs are things people take that they think will make them feel better, but they don't," I said. "I mean, they can make you feel better at first, but then you'll feel awful afterwards so just don't do them."

"What?" he asked. "What are drugs?"

"Drugs are bad," I repeated.

"But they can make you feel better?" he asked. "Medicine makes you feel better."

"Yes, medicines are technically drugs, but if I give them to you, then it's OK," I said. Is this what the school year drug dealers will be telling my kid? I quickly covered: "I think what they were really talking about is illegal drugs."

"What are illegal drugs?"

"Things like marijuana and cocaine," I said. "But that's why we had to be careful with Halloween candy, because people sometimes spike things with drugs."

"There were drugs in my Halloween candies?" he asked, alarmed.

"No, honey," I assured him. "There weren't drugs in your Halloween candy. I mean, probably not. I hope not. Just—this is why Mommy had to check your Halloween candy before you ate it."

"Mommy, have you ever tried drugs?" he asked.

"Ummmmmm ..." Should I tell him that I didn't inhale?

"So, then should I try drugs?" he asked.


"Did Daddy ever try drugs?" he asked.

"Daddy has never tried drugs," I said. Thank goodness for my goody-two-shoes husband. "And Daddy would never do drugs, either, so you should never do drugs."

"But you have done drugs?" he asked.

This kid was being tougher on me than that interviewer was on Bill Clinton. I decided to answer the way I think Bill would've responded.

"I don't do drugs."

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After all, it's true. I may have tried drugs once or twice in my day, but I don't do drugs now. Now, I'm a productive member of society, and I release the tensions of my day like any other working mom that I know: with copious amounts of wine.

Should I have told my son that alcohol is a drug?

I'm basically a failure as a mom.

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