I am on page 96. It is absorbing and heartbreaking, reading a father’s feelings as his son becomes an addict.
As I read, I reassure myself that these terrible things (drunk and high at twelve, disappearing for days at seventeen) do not happen to ordinary children. They live in California, I point out to myself. The father admits to doing his own fair share of drugs. They do next to nothing in regards to disciplining their son.
These things are so foreign to me. They pound it in to you, year after year: don’t do drugs. Kids will pressure you to. Know what you will do when you have to choose. Be ready.
I have a confession to make. I was never cool enough to be asked to do drugs. I never even went to a party with alcohol in high school, that’s how uncool I was (am).
I don’t know anyone who died from an overdose, or from driving while drunk. No one I knew even had their stomach pumped. The “worst” that happened to my friends was the occasional out-of-wedlock pregnancy, and that was plenty to scare me away from pretty much everything my parents had ever told me not to do.
The author of this book, David Sheff, writes of a world where kids face entirely new and terrifying dangers. Streets are flooded with meth and LSD and cocaine- not to mention pot- when previously all parents had to deal with was alcohol and cigarettes.
The scenes he describes make my mind reel. Sometime in the next five years, I will most likely have a child. How will I protect them from these things I never even had to deal with? Is it possible to find or construct, as my parents did, pockets of isolation from the majority of these pitfalls? What does parenting mean in a world of such danger?
My brother is 13. Is HE prepared for the dangers ahead?
Do I even have a right to contemplate these things, from my position safely snuggled up in my childhood bed?
I have no answers.