It does make you wonder? And worry.

"> Mama Madison: When the time comes for a party... - IsthmusParents, Madison, Wisconsin

Mama Madison: When the time comes for a party...

Early lessons about alcohol abuse

Heading home from dinner a couple weeks back, my family and I drove by the last remnants of the Mifflin Street Block Party. Upon witnessing the obscenely drunk and stumbling masses, my 11-year-old made a remarkably keen observation.

"So these people were smart enough to get into college?"

It does make you wonder? And worry.

I know I am in the glory years now, where my 5th grader takes everything Officer Tom, his C.O.P.S. teacher, says as gospel. My son is appropriately concerned about Internet strangers and illegal substances. And even though he thought the "impaired vision goggles" Officer Tom let him don were fun, he has promised not try alcohol until the ripe old (and legal) age of 21.

I am not naive. It is statistically unlikely, no matter how much I preach a zero-tolerance policy, that he will wait until college graduation before taking his first sip. I hope will be later, rather than sooner, but it's just a matter of when. Unfortunately kids don't come with pop-up turkey timers to inform parents that they are about to engage in risky behavior. It would really make things so much easier if they did.

I sampled my first half a plastic cup of mostly foam (I've never been able to work a keg) at some "my-parents-are-away-for-the weekend" party in high school. But there was no way I would have ever dared to have more. I had pretty much convinced myself that if I got caught drinking while still living under my parents' roof that I'd be a whole lot more than grounded for a month. I was worried that my college acceptances would be revoked or that I’d be forbidden from attending my debate teams nationals. Yes, I was a bit of a nerd and worrywart -- my parents really lucked out.

I then took off for a college with a strong (and somewhat well-deserved) reputation for being the "place where fun comes to die". You'd think a college full of nerds might have a more temperate approach toward alcohol. But I witnessed many times over what the first taste of parental freedom breeds when it comes to booze, and it wasn't pretty. While I don't remember any of my classmates needing to go to detox, a la Mifflin, I do have many friends who wish they could forget some of the very poor decisions they made under the influence of one stale frat party beer too many.

My thoughts on Mifflin echo what any sane mom's in Madison would. No citations on open containers? Really? Rarely have relaxed rules led to improved behavior at my house. Drinking at 7:30 a.m.? These kids haven't been up that early in years. Can't you smell the impending disaster? Octobongs, t-shirts that say "Drunk Me How to Bucky" and the desire to "puke and rally" in order to prepare for an evening of continued partying? Something has clearly got to give before one of those rickety Mifflin St. balconies does.

But if the event even survives (given this year's stabbings, sexual assaults and drug deals I have my doubts), I'd like to take Mayor Soglin's suggestion of posting pictures and videos on-line one better. Just live-stream the whole day and broadly promote the link to parents. I think the college crowd may just behave a whole lot better if they knew mom and dad were watching.

I will continue to keep my fingers crossed that my 11-year-old remembers what he saw downtown that evening the first time he's confronted with a tough decision surrounding alcohol.

I will also tell him that, if he ends up at UW-Madison, I will never co-sign a lease on the 400 block of Mifflin.

But mostly, I will remind that a good benchmark for decision-making might be whether he'd make the same choice if he knew mom was watching.

comments powered by Disqus

More to read

Loading More Articles
No More Articles

Mama Madison: Earth Day awareness

It may be a bigger waste of breath than electricity to ask my kids to turn off the lights when they leave a room. If I've nagged them once, I've nagged them a thousand times. No, I've never noticed anything amiss with their fingers. But it appears they are physically incapable of flipping a switch to the "off" position.

Mama Madison: Parents should know and understand school codes of conduct

I want to say thank you to the Board of Education for allowing Maia to return to class, unquestionably the place she belongs, as well as to thank them for adopting the new policies. But just as importantly, I also want to thank Maia and her family for their willingness to come forward with their story.

Helping your kids stick with music lessons

Some clever-clogs is playing Rachmaninoff on the piano at a party, and there it is again, that oft-heard adult lament of lost opportunity from a dejected onlooker: "I wish I could play. I wish my parents hadn't let me quit music lessons. I was just a kid -- how was I to know?" It's a reasonable complaint.

A summer camp quiz for parents

If you're checking out summer camps for your child, there are many issues -- some obvious, some less so -- to keep in mind. Here's a list to keep handy when you contact camps and camp directors, looking for the perfect spot for your kids to have fun, relax, and learn this summer.

Mama Madison: Lessons in dining out

I know, in the grand scheme of things, that my kid issues, when it comes to dining out, absolutely pale in comparison to those of parents whose kids have special needs. Many kids, especially those who are on the autism spectrum, are disturbed by changes in their routine, or anxious around noisy places. They may not be able tolerate waiting for a table or standing in line. So unfortunately, many of these families just avoid eating out at restaurants altogether.

Mama Madison: Natural vs. un-natural parenting

It's weird to admit this, especially in a city surrounded by as much outdoor beauty as Madison. But frankly, I'm just not that into nature. I'm more of an indoor kind of gal. Give me an afternoon at the Chazen or the Wisconsin Historical Museum over the Arboretum or Olbrich Gardens any day.

Mama Madison: Theatrical talent close to home

Lavish costumes, gorgeous sets, a full orchestra and a concession stand where nothing cost more than two bucks and you have a pitch perfect experience at the theater. Oh, and did I mention the ticket prices were just $10 dollars apiece? One could afford to take the whole family for a live theater experience for less than an evening at the Lego movie would cost including popcorn.

Mama Madison: Race to shame

I think the first time in recent years that I've felt a real sense of shame, as both a parent and community member, was last Tuesday evening as I sat in a crowded elementary school LMC to listen to Ken Taylor, executive director of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, and his colleague, Torry Wynn, present key findings from the 2013 Race to Equity report to our PTO group.

Hancock Center addresses bullying through body movement

It's Wednesday morning at Allis Elementary School on Madison's east side, and 16 third-graders -- 10 boys and six girls -- enter into an open-space classroom in typical wiggly, giggly style. Some are making goofy faces at one another, some are bouncing around hand-in-hand with friends, and others are just trying to stay out of the whirling-dervish path of activity.

Mama Madison: Get in the picture

Of the 789 poorly-composed, way-too-dark and out-of-focus photos currently living on my iPhone, I can count on two hands the number that show my kids and me together. And my husband is in probably no more than three or four of those.

Mama Madison: Welcome to the Parenting Olympics

Something kind of magical has happened these past two weeks during the Sochi Olympics. There is no question, debate or disagreement on what will be watched on television once all homework is done. Everyone in the family makes time to sit down together to watch an hour of so of the primetime televised games.

Mama Madison: Facebook's instant nostalgia fix

Truth be told, though, this month I'm feeling a bit cinematically fried. In some ways, I already feel like I've spent the last week or so at a film festival. A festival specializing in minute-long glimpses of ordinary lives all ending with credits that feature the ubiquitous blue thumbs-up. Yes, it's been the February of the Facebook movie.

Mama Madison: The kindness question

Just last week, on precisely the same day the Momastery post was getting over a million well-deserved views, Madison mom Suzanne Buchko was telling a similar story. Not on a blog but instead in the confines of the modestly circulated Franklin-Randall Elementary School weekly newsletter.

Toddlers take to tablets

Late last month, the Madison Metropolitan School District adopted a five-year, $27.7 million technology plan calling for all district students, including those in the primary grades, to have significantly increased access to their very own tablet or notebook computer by 2019. Some parents, as well as education professionals, questioned whether elementary-aged kids, especially kindergarteners who aren't even able to read or write yet, will gain much benefit from introducing yet another screen into their lives.

Mama Madison: Science or study hall?

This past Monday, had winter's unrelenting weather allowed, Middleton Cross Plains School District teacher Andrew Harris would have once again been at the helm of a classroom. After nearly four years of fighting his dismissal from Glacier Creek Middle School for viewing and passing on sexually explicit material on district computers, MCPSD has been legally forced to reinstate Herris, this time as a seventh-grade science teacher at Kromrey Middle School.

Mama Madison: MTV provides a teachable moment

In a study published last week by the National Bureau of Economic Research, academics have found that the 16 and Pregnant series may have played a significant role in the recent decrease in U.S. teen pregnancies.

Mama Madison: Planning for the MLK holiday

In our house, sad but true, we've rarely spent the Martin Luther King holiday discussing race, social justice or the power of non-violent civil disobedience. Instead, the third Monday in January has historically been treated as just another day off school, just another long weekend. And it's been a missed opportunity.

Mama Madison: The long vacation

It's not something that happens very often, but last Friday, as news of the impending arctic cold snap reached our house, my kids were rooting for Governor Scott Walker. They were rooting for him to take Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton's lead and cancel school throughout the state. They couldn't care less if he had the authority to do such a thing -- if he called off school, he'd be their hero.

Mama Madison: Cheating 101 at Middleton High School

Late last semester, as students were packing up their backpacks one final time before winter break, Middleton High School principal Denise Herrmann and assistant principal Lisa Jondle were co-authoring a note home to parents informing them of a widespread cheating scandal involving nearly 250 calculus students at the school.

A mindful way to parent: Keep it in the moment, and take a deeeeep breath...

Breathe in, breathe out. Have you ever been in the heat of a parenting moment with these words ringing through your head? Then you're on the right path toward mindful parenting.


Emails from Isthmus Parents feature event highlights, story links, site updates, and occasional special offers from trusted sources. Name and email address are required. Thanks!