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July 20, 2007

Old enough to fight and die, old enough to drink??? NO WAY!

When the subject of underage drinking comes up invariably someone (usually under 21 years of age) will justify lowering the drinking age to 18 by employing the "old worn logic" that if you are old enough to fight and die in the service of your country you should be old enough to drink.  And each time I hear that tired argument I am reminded of something my favorite high school social studies teacher, Mr. Beaver, once said in the late 1960s when my baby boomer generation was fighting and dying for the lost cause that was Vietnam.  He said "The military has known for more than 100 years that the best recruits for front line soldiers and sailors are 18 to 20 year olds because they are emotionally and psychologically malleable, lack good judgment, have underdeveloped critical thinking skills and will follow orders without questioning them.  I would further submit that anyone who doubts the veracity of his summation, especially with regard to judgment,  need look no further than the rates of motor vehicle accident and fatalities for this age group.

Drinking alcohol carries with it significant responsibilities that are all too often lost in the emotion of the debate over the "right to drink" and the appropriate age limit.  Responsibilities that require well developed critical thinking skills with regard to judgment and behavior.

In my opinion 18-20 year olds who function at that higher level are by far the exception rather than the rule.

July 20, 2007 at 11:38 AM in The Odyssey | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 06, 2007

Death is Nothing at All

Death is nothing at all. I have only slipped away into the next room.
I am I, and you are you. Whatever we were to each other, that we still are.
Call me by my old familiar name, speak to me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference in your tone, wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.

Pray, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was,
let it be spoken without effect, without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was; there is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner.

All is well. Nothing is past; Nothing is lost, One brief moment and all will be as it was before.  How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

Henry Scott Holland 1847-1918 Canon of St. Pauls Cathedral

July 6, 2007 at 02:10 PM in The Odyssey | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 04, 2007

Enough to Wake the Dead

The stores show up this time of year in vacant buildings or red and white tents near busy thoroughfares surrounded by large hand-made signs garishly proclaiming FIREWORKS – BUY 1 GET FIVE FREE!!!  For me they have always had a lurid feel to them akin to an adult bookstore or a casino, most likely because for years Fireworks were illegal to purchase in the State of Indiana.  But though the prohibition to purchase was removed by our legislature some years ago the industry is still very much a seasonal one tied primarily to the two major “rockets red glare” holidays of Memorial Day and the 4th of July.  I noted in a previous post that David, like most boys, was a huge firework devotee and in the years before his death Josh, Dave and I staged many an impromptu fireworks displays that seemed to grow each year in firepower and expense.

   

When a child dies, and for many years after, parents face an unrelenting gauntlet of birthdays and holidays that bring sweet memories mixed with pain.  The big holidays like Birthdays, Christmas and Thanksgiving are easily anticipated by the newly bereaved parent. but it is the “minor” holidays like Halloween and the 4th of July that always seem to catch us unawares and explode into grief like an emotional landmine.

Several years, and 4th of Julys, after losing Dave I decided that it was time for me to take back this holiday and stage an emotional landmine of my own rather than experience one.  I made a trip to one of those “temporary” Fireworks Stores operating out of a long defunct K-Mart strip center.  I grabbed a grocery cart and began loading up, not on those wimpy bottle rockets and firecrackers but the so-called “artillery shells” and aerial rockets that shoot high into the night and explode in brilliant colors. 

And later that night, not long before midnight, Marissa and I climbed around the fence of the silent graveyard, crossed the dark expanse of the cemetery and slowly found our way to David’s marker.  And for the next half hour the silence and darkness of the memorial park was shattered with both the staccato roar of explosions and brilliant flashes of light..."loud enough" (Marissa said) "to wake the dead!!!"

This year Josh and his wife Angie may join us on our nocturnal graveyard escapade and if they do it will be the first time in a great many years that we will celebrate the 4th of July as we always did….together.

July 4, 2007 at 06:00 AM in The Odyssey | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 02, 2007

Underage Drinking "A Rite of Passage"?????

On June 18th a commentary appeared in the Indianapolis Business Journal in response to the arrest of Jack Trudeau, former Indianapolis Colts Quarterback, for hosting an underage drinking party at his home in honor of his daughters graduation from high school.  The commentator suggested that underage drinking parties are a rite of passage for young people and that law enforcement would do well to be more restrained in enforcing the law when parents are providing a "safe" environment for their kids to drink.

We wrote this in response:

Your commentary on Teen Drinking ("Take off blinders to teen drinking" IBJ June 18, 2007) was a powerful reminder to my wife and I of how our attitudes on this subject have evolved since we sat across the table from you at the Heartland Film Festival in the late 1990's, where we were guests of mutual friends. Our world was quite different then; we might have agreed with you that teen drinking is as evitable as humidity in an Indiana summer.

However we live in a different reality today. In the summer of 2000, a few years after that dinner, we were shocked to discover that our younger son
David's drinking, which began with "experimentation" at age 13, had developed
into a serious addiction. Despite being involved parents who lived in an
affluent Indianapolis suburb and were never reticent about letting our kids
know our expectations about drug use and underage drinking, we found ourselves powerless over our son's growing addiction. We sought help at Fairbanks, a local treatment facility; David spent two months in their Intensive Outpatient
Program.

At Fairbanks we met other parents from all over central Indiana. Parents who
at one time may have believed, as your column suggests, that winking at our
children's flirtations with alcohol is part of a parent's responsibility to
allow them space to grow and develop into responsible and successful adults.
But we know now that while not every child who experiments will end up
addicted, no child who does plans it that way, and no parent ever expects it to happen to their child. We have come to understand that while we cannot control the choices and actions that our kids take, we do have a responsibility as
parents to ensure that we do nothing that makes it easier for them to make poor choices, or to send mixed signals that can be misinterpreted as condoning or sanctioning those choices.

Today we know the power and the perils of addiction and we also know all too well that for many children who end up in treatment, the path to their
addiction was paved with good parental intentions that inadvertently fueled the
progress of their disease. Intentions that today we see as enabling poor
choices and denial of their problem.

On June 9, 2001, David made the ultimate poor choice--while swimming at a
friend's backyard pool, he inhaled the propellant in a can of computer cleaner.
He had discovered "huffing" could give him a brief high; after diving under
the water while huffing, his heart went into cardiac arrest and his lungs
filled with water. Despite immediate administration of CPR by the friend's
mother and very quick response by emergency personnel, David could not be
saved. He was 16 years old.

As a result of our experiences with our son David and his treatment at
Fairbanks, my wife and I volunteer there every Thursday night at 7:30 PM, where we run a Parent Support Group for families whose children have been touched by the disease of addiction. We cordially invite you to join us some Thursday evening to introduce you to a group of parents who at one time may have felt as you do about underage drinking. I am sure you will find them not all that unfamiliar since they are parents who are your neighbors, your employees and your friends. Parents who, like us, see the world through a different lens than we did before.

We'd be honored to have you join us, share with you our journeys and hear about yours as well. We are not experts on anything, just survivors whose kids are not bad kids, but kids who were making bad choices. We believe you would find it an enlightening and rewarding experience.  We also encourage you to go to www.The24Group.org to find out more information about resources and support for families who are struggling with addiction in an adolescent or young adult.

Warmly,

Kim and Marissa Manlove

July 2, 2007 at 10:46 AM in The Odyssey | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack