I panicked when my daughter asked the question. So I did something bold: I told the truth
“Mom, did you ever smoke marijuana?” my 11-year-old daughter, Lizzie, asked as we pulled up in our driveway, gravel crunching under the car’s wheels. Her question wasn’t totally out of the blue — we’d just passed a passel of teenagers hanging out on our town’s main street, a smoky cloud hovering over them like a mass Schleprock, and my husband and I had commented about the local drug problem — but I was still caught off guard. My husband muttered something unintelligible and darted from the car to let the dog out of the house. I sat, frozen with panic. Do I answer honestly? Or lie? Spinning possible answers like a roulette wheel in my mind, I opted for truth.
“Yes, I did. A long time ago, in high school.” I unclasped my seat belt and turned around to face her.
Lizzie actually gasped. “Why?” she asked. She’s the type of kid who likes rules, the more of them the better. There are hints of the adolescent rebel lurking inside her. But for now, she uses words like “marijuana” instead of “pot.”
And why indeed? I’d been curious, of course, but I also wanted, desperately, to escape my social awkwardness, the discomfort of living in a small Southern city. That town fit me as well as the Chic jeans I wore back then, so tight and claustrophobic that I had to lie down on my bed, exhale, close my eyes and will myself smaller to zip them up. I guess I also wanted to see what I could get away with. (Quite a lot, it turned out.) Pot was forbidden and illegal — and sure to horrify my straight-laced parents. But mostly, it was a social lubricant that greased my rusty social skills: The ritual of rolling a joint and passing it around a room of kids my own age was something I could spend hours doing. Plus, it made my eight-track tapes sound great.
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