Talking to my five year old about weed

A few nights back,  my eldest daughter complained that I smelled like smoke when I kissed her.

It would have been the perfect opportunity to have an age-appropriate, honest conversation. If only I knew what to say.

“Yeah,” I said, instead. “I do smell, huh?”

“Yeah,” she answered. “It’s gross.”

“Yeah.”

We ended up talking about other things until she fell asleep, but her comment haunted me all night.

This kid is no dummy. As my friend says, “She won’t suffer fools easily.” And it’s true. When she was two years old, I told her the “golf ball monster” took her hot pink golf ball away, and she just looked at me and asked, “Are you the golf ball monster, mommy?”

I didn’t know how to respond then, and three years later, little has changed. Kids have a precocious way of catching you completely-the-fuck off guard.

I also find it especially difficult to not know what to say. Because I usually do. I work in communications, and the first rule of the field is to be the bearer of your own bad PR.

But how do I broach this topic? How do I get ahead of inevitable, difficult conversations? How do I explain that sometimes adults do things that are unhealthy?

Maybe honesty is the best policy. That was my approach, anyway.

A few nights later I tried it.

“Remember how I smelled like smoke the other night,” I asked.

“Yeah. How come you smelled like that?”

“Well… I actually did smoke.”

“That’s so gross. Why?”

“It’s kinda hard to explain. But sometimes grown ups need to relax after a long day. And sometimes we relax in ways that are good for our body, like going for a run, and sometimes we relax in ways that aren’t very good for our body but can be good–in very small amounts–for our mind. That’s kind of what smoking does for mommy and daddy. And the important thing to remember is the ‘small amount’ part. Do you know what I mean when I say ‘amount’?”

“Yes. Like how much of something.”

“Exactly! So… we always want the amount of the bad stuff we put into our body to be small. That’s the trick to the bad stuff…figuring out just how much.”

“Yeah, but why do you put any of the bad stuff in? Why does your brain need it?”

“Well, sometimes your brain is just tired from a long day,” I said as the Little A wailed obnoxiously in the background. “And your sister is driving me nuts. And I’m kinda mad at my boss. And I still have a sink full of dirty dishes to deal with. And smoking makes me feel less stressed about some that.”

“I want to go to Neverland so I never have to grow up,” she said.

Mr. D and I both cracked up.

“It’s not so bad,” I said. “We get to do some fun stuff too.”

Embrace it

It’s 9:09 pm. The kids are quiet. I would love to lounge in bed and Netflix and chill with Mr. D, the cat, and a bong hit or three.

But I’m still so on edge, like my body is tingling with all this nervous, anxious energy from the little giant thing that made up a bad day, and I don’t think I can shake myself of it.

I’m also really pessimistic.

Now it’s 9:12 and the little one is at my door, screaming like crazy.

Oh, bedtime. I always feel like I’m fucking this one up.

I’m basically live tweeting (without Twitter) my high mom thoughts.

****

So it’s 9:23, and I think the kids might be down for the count, and I finally know what I’m going to write. It comes from the third graph above.

Now it’s 9:30 and I just went back and edited the first graph 20 times. Ugh. I’m basically live tweeting (without Twitter) my writing process.

Alright… now I’m going to try and write something smart:

So yeah, a few weeks back, Mr. D discovered this funny thing when texting on an iPhone. (You might already know this exists, but this was news to me, as I’m also notoriously oblivious to everything. Anyway… he discovered that the phone doesn’t just autocorrect words you’re in the process of typing, but it can also predict the next word you’re about to put in. And I’m guessing it does this by some sort of Siri word cloud that assesses your vocabulary and speech pattern).

I say that because here’s our text exchange from yesterday morning:

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(If that’s hard to read, the main exchange says:

Mr. D: I love you so much fun and addicting but it is a great day to be a good day to be a great day to be

Me: Love the D and the rest of the year and I don’t think that I have a great way for a few years back

Mr. D: It’s so funny. Do you have a sec to talk?)

Do you get what’s funny? I didn’t until Mr. D called me to say even the tone of our predictive texts reflects our personalities. I’m a glass-half-empty glum. And he is a sunny outlook kinda guy. (Which is only slightly true).

Anyway, today… I had so much to be happy about:

  • I killed an important presentation.
  • I handled a bullshit performance appraisal with my boss with grace and humility, and I told her that I see her criticisms as opportunities for growth (which I do).
  • I got an email from a headhunter asking me to consider applying for a director position at a larger institution. Not sure how this happened, but that’s more flattering than time the hottest guy in 6th grade flirted with me at a bar in my 20s.

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But.

I chose instead to be pissed off and resentful all evening. Like when I told Mr. D all my good news, I ended with the one thing that really grinds my fucking gears. This thing—this one word from my performance appraisal—was a monster in the pit of my belly. And it was hungry.

I bitched about it to a girlfriend, and it grew. I thought about it while driving home, and it grew. And when Mr. D kissed me and congratulated me about my day, I fed it some more, and didn’t even notice the colossal-sized delusions of grandeur to which it had grown.

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In fact, it wasn’t until after my bong hit that I finally felt its weight inside of me. It was so heavy and depleting. It fed off my anger and drained me of joy.

And then I farted. Long and deep. In a way that would make my fat grandma proud. I was like Martha Stewart after getting fired by the Griffins.

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And by then it was bedtime.

And I realized I could turn this into a message for my girls.

(This is not the message, but my friend Enrique’s other universal truth is that “All men are dumb, and all women are crazy.” I believe it. Because I was having this little epiphany–which I’ll get to soon, I swear–right as the kids were completely losing their shit. The Big A was whining and acting a bratty fool over not getting her way; the Little A was screaming like a little asshole tyrant. But fortunately I was high. And so very stress-free. And so I began to see things, finally, in Mr. D’s “it’s a good day to be a great day” light.)

Anyway, I told my kids about my epiphany: It physically hurts—your mind actually wears you down and destroys your body—when you hold onto the things that make you angry.

I wanted the kids to hear me because they need to hear this message just as much as I do. Of course, they’re 3 and 5, and I’m 32, but whatever. Age ain’t nothing but a number (RIP, Aaliyah.) (Also, thank you for spelling your name in songs so I don’t have to Google it).

And then we just cuddled in bed and listened to some instrumental Beatles, and I fluffed their sheets one last time and kissed them goodnight.

And somehow all our monsters seemed to dissipate into the stars.

Thanks, weed!

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