Last night, Beloved and I were watching Deadliest Catch. It was the episode in which the late Captain Phil (who has always been my favorite -- I am honestly crushed that he has passed, as though I knew him personally, and I cried when I found out he'd died of a stroke this year) talks to his son Jake about Jake's addiction.
After Phil catches Jake stealing his prescription pain killers, he basically goes from telling his kid he's a thief and a liar and he'll break his teeth to hugging him and telling him he's got to get into treatment after Jake admits he's an addict. Watching the crusty old sailor go from shaking with anger to just shrinking back when the word "addict" comes out of Jake's mouth had an effect on me. Phil admits he has an addictive personality, as well, saying he'll go to meetings with Jake when they get back. Phil passed away shortly after his return to shore. I'm not sure he was ever able to make it to a meeting.
This morning, I read the Facebook comments on BlogHer's post on whether or not you would buy condoms for your kid. There was a lot of back-and-forth about whether or not you should, the place of abstinence education, etc. My position on this matter, I think, is that I would rather drive my daughter to the drugstore and make her buy them herself than buy them for her. But I would very much prefer she not need them.
You hope. You hope your child will never screw up. You hope she won't fall prey to the temptations of your own youth, make the mistakes you made, that she'll resist when her friends try to pass her a joint or pop a pill swiped from someone's uncle's medicine cabinet. You hope she won't believe a boy when he says he'll pull out in time or that he's never slept with anyone else and couldn't possibly have an STD. You hope she won't take a drink and get behind the wheel of a car. You hope she won't lie or cheat or steal. You think you're teaching the right lessons, but your parents taught you right and you still just had to test the bounds of teendom anyway.
I was a good kid, I had a strong religious background, I had every reason not to give in to the world's temptations, but I still had to make a lot of mistakes to learn why. Religion is an electric fence -- it doesn't protect you from mistakes, it just adds a layer of resistance to making them and drives home the punishment after you break through.
I didn't just accept "don't do it" -- I had to learn why not to do it the hard way. I have no reason to believe my daughter will be different, precocious and intelligent as she already is. Obedient, yes, but curious and headstrong as well.
I hope her life will go smoothly. But if I'm honest with myself, I know I may be a few years away from a Captain Phil moment in which my shoulders go slack and I hug my sobbing, repentant child and mutter, "I understand."