Parental self-control needed
In the past year we have heard too many stories about a parent's irresponsibility causing the tragic loss of a child. The headlines tell horrifying tales of otherwise "good" mothers killing innocent children because they made the reckless decision to drink and drive. Recently, one mother took a sleepover full of elementary school kids party hopping and crashed the car on the way home. Sadly one of the girls, barely 9-years-old, was killed. This Halloween I saw just how easy it is for something like this to happen.
I love handing out Halloween candy to trick-or-treaters. So every year I make sure to be at my parent's house at least for a little while to take part in the festivities. In between making apple cider doughnuts and carving pumpkins, I would be signaled to answer the door by the sound of gentle knocks of giggling children. When I answered, their smiling faces would yell "trick-or-treat," and once given their treat they would scamper away to the next house in sugar induced happiness. The memories of my childhood swept over me. I realized that this day was truly a day of childhood innocence. But in between my reminiscing about Halloweens past I was taken back by something I had never seen before: The parents brought along some treats for themselves.
When I saw the group of adults dragging a little red wagon behind them, I thought they had brought it along in case one of the little ones had gotten tired. To my surprise this seemingly innocent little red wagon was being used to cart around a cooler filled with beer and alcohol. As the kids went from door to door the parents stood at a distance, too concerned with making sure their solo cups were filled to even pay attention to the joy on their children's faces, an innocent joy that with time is forgotten. Not only did they miss out on priceless childhood memories, they missed out on the chance to remember the feeling of childhood innocence, something that every stranger opening the door to their kids did. If that wasn't bad enough, after about an hour they continued the festivities from their front lawn. They lounged, beer in hand, as their children ran wild through the neighborhood. They told them they would go out again later; it seemed mommy and daddy were tired. Perhaps if they left the booze at home they could have walked a little further.
Was it so hard to spend the day with their children, so hard they needed to drink to make it through? Was it that they did not know how to deal with their children without the assistance of Dora and Elmo? Or could it possibly be that they are so unhappy with their lives that alcohol is the only thing that could make this day bearable? Whatever the reason was, in my eyes — and I hope in the eyes of many others — this was an irresponsible act that put the lives of those children in danger. As a parent your number one priority should be the safety of your child, not figuring out a way to make this Halloween a party for you and your friends. Is drunk the best state of mind to be in while walking with a child down and across streets and knocking on the doors of strangers? Do they not realize that being intoxicated could impair their judgment to the point where they might not look both ways while crossing the street? Is having that drink worth risking your child being hit by a car?
We wonder why 12 year olds are getting their stomachs pumped at concerts. It is because mom and dad teach them that you cannot enjoy a day without alcohol? They also teach them that as their child they are a secondary priority. When a child does not feel wanted they find something to fill that hole. I know that having a drink while watching your child is not a crime; but if you need a drink to hang out with them, that is where the problem begins. But where do you draw the line at drinking while caring for a child? Is one okay, or does it depend on the occasion? I don't think these are questions that should have to be asked. Once they are is when tragedies happen. As our generation gets to the age of having kids — and yes, believe it or not we are pretty close — I hope that we can learn from the mistakes that are being made by parents now and give our children a life of safety and enjoyment they deserve.
Anna Norcia is a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences senior majoring in nutritional sciences. Her column, "Just the Facts," runs on alternate Mondays.