My six year-old-son was watching out for me. I went to get a beer from the fridge and he said, "Dad! That's alcohol. It's bad for you."
I wasn't sure where this was coming from. Aside from religion classes at the parish, he doesn't attend any kind outside classes where he'd be getting propaganda encouraging him to watch out for his parent's substance abuse. (I've never been a smoker, but I always sympathized with Mr. Quimby when Ramona and Beezus decide to wage their PR campaign against his smoking, particularly when he's out of work.) Nor is my nightly drink or two the sort of thing which would cause a child to worry. I have a beer when I get home from work and sometimes a glass of Scotch or Bourbon after the kids go to bed.
"What's the problem?" I asked him.
"It's bad for you!" he insisted. "You shouldn't use alcohol."
This went on for several weeks. Every time I got a drink, he warned me against it. Finally I sat him down. "What are you worried about, son? Why are you so upset about my drinking alcohol."
"Because it's bad for you," he said, crossing his arms and glowering with the seriousness of a six-year-old who has been questioned in his convictions. "Remember when the lady at the mall said that you should never use alcohol because it was bad for your skin?"
Then it came back to me. I'd had him with me a month before when I stopped by a shaving store at the mall and tried out their shaving soaps and aftershave. The lady there had indeed said that I should never use an alcohol-based aftershave, because it was bad for my skin. And because they sold very expensive little tubes of after-shave lotion which were not alcohol-based.
I explained to him what she had been talking about: alcohol-based aftershave, not drinking alcohol, and he was reassured. There have been no complains when I pour a beer or a gin & tonic since then. But it goes to show the extent to which young ears are open and trying to watch out for us. At the time, I'd thought he was fully occupied poking around at the demonstration products, but he was in fact paying plenty of attention.
Music on My Mind
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