“Daddy, I Want a Vodka Tonic Nooooooow!”: When Underage Kids Demand Alcohol

Click to see more from Dave R. Farmer via WANA Commons

While attending a fancy-schmancy cocktail party before a big party, a gaggle of women wearing our prettiest dresses formed a loose circle to catch up. I stood closest to four women. We talked about apple picking and how a Trader Joe’s would soon be opening next door to our local TJ Maxx. We admired each other’s shoes and accessories, smiled and posed for pictures.

A stranger in a tight purple dress broke into our circle, and turned to one of the women I knew.

“Will you get me a drink?” Tight Purple Dress requested.

I wondered why she didn’t get her own drink.

And then I realized Tight Purple dress was Apple,* the 10th grade daughter of the woman she was addressing.

Let me tell you, Apple did not look like a fifteen-year-old girl.

Rather, she didn’t look like me when I was fifteen. When I was fifteen, I had frizzy hair and no boobs.

Apple had it goin’ on.

Apple’s mother shooed her away.

Because I am clueless, I didn’t know what the big deal was.

I figured if Apple was thirsty she could have a sip of my drink.

As I handed her my glass, Apple shot her mother a smug look. But after a quick swig, she pulled her mouth away from my drink with a frown.

“What is this?” Apple wrinkled up her face. “Sprite?”

“Ginger ale with lime.” I smiled, taking the glass back in my hands and jiggling it. “My signature drink.”

“I wanted…like, a vodka tonic or something.”

I shrugged and wiped her lipstick off the rim of my glass with a napkin.

Apple turned to her mother again.

“C’mon, mom. It’s a party.”

Apple’s mother turned her back to her daughter.

Good for her, I thought. She’s standing firm.

Meanwhile, Apple inserted herself into every conversation, asking every woman in the vicinity to please get her a drink from the bar.

The proposition was not enticing.

Photo from Sacks08 @ flickr.com

When Apple interrupted my conversation for the third time, I was pissed. Honestly, in that moment, I didn’t care if I made her feel less than.

I batted her away like an annoying little gnat. “Why don’t you go in the room with the DJ?” I suggested. “This is the adult cocktail hour.”

Undeterred, Apple flitted across the room where she found her father. I watched as he chatted it up with his buddies and, absently, handed his daughter his stubby glass filled with something.

I watched Apple polish off her father’s drink, and I tracked her as she made her way back toward her mother.

I figured she was sated.

Sucking on a piece of ice, Apple was relentless and started to beg again: “Mommy, will you get me a drink, now?”

Apple’s mother thrust her glass into her daughter’s manicured hand. “Take this and go!”

Women looked at their rings and adjusted their bracelets.

One woman caught Apple’s mother’s elbow. “What are you doing?”

“I’m doing what I need to do, so my kid will leave me alone and I can have a little fun.”

The circle broke apart then. Some women went to try the hors d’oeuvres that had been brought out; others went to find spouses. Some wandered toward the bathroom, ostensibly to check makeup.

And probably to chat about what had transpired.

I leaned against a wall, processing things.

When it comes to parenting, we do the best we can.

And raising children is not easy.

We all make decisions we wish that we could take back.

Meanwhile, I have watched this dance between Apple and her mother for a decade.

Photo from Roni Loren via WANA Commons

So where does this leave Apple?

Will she be a good Apple? Or rotten to the core?

Kids are programmed to test the limits set by the adults around them.

It’s their job.

But that’s when the adults in their lives are supposed to push them back and remind them where the boundaries are. You know, when they overstep.

So why do parents get stuck on the reminding about the limits part?

Because it’s not cool? Because it’s not fun? Because it’s exhausting?

Whatever.

Who cares if your kid hates you for a little while?

I don’t.

And Tech, if you are reading this if you suddenly feel the urge to drink something alcoholic while under the legal age, you probably shouldn’t come looking to your father. Or me.

But.

You can have as much ginger ale as you like. Bring your friends.

How would you react if your child asked you for alcohol in a public venue? Do you believe it is better to provide alcohol for your child (so you can oversee things) or that it is more important to uphold the law? Do you think Apple’s behavior is indicative of an emerging drinking problem or just harmless adolescent attention seeking? Am I over-reacting?

Tweet Me @rasjacobson

94 responses to ““Daddy, I Want a Vodka Tonic Nooooooow!”: When Underage Kids Demand Alcohol

  1. Apple reminds me of Veruca, or any of the Golden ticket winners, except Charlie, in Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. But, it looks like a problem, just reading it. This wasn’t Apple’s first adult beverage, it is likely she has quite an appreciation for a libation, from time to time. Right now my son, a freshman hates me, I am not here to be popular. I am trying to break some misbehavior that is keeping him from being more successful. My only wish is that i had had a ‘traffic cop’ on me when I was his age, perhaps some of my missteps could have been avoided altogether. YES, you are right to be concerned for Apple and her family.

    • Hi Clay. I’m sure this wasn’t Apple’s first drink, but I was allowed to have Manischewitz at holidays — privately in our home. And yet, my parents were very clear that alcohol in public was not acceptable. It was the very public nature of Apple’s begging that was so off-putting. She obviously knew she was going to “win.” It was so very uncomfortable — at least for me. Sounds like you are going through a rough patch with your son. Parenting ain’t easy. I always say my worst day as a teacher is sooooo much easier than my worst day as a parent. What do you think?

  2. As pre schoolers we were allowed 1/2 class of wine in the Sicilian culture. Then I wanted more. You go see Uncle Mike. Every family probably has an Uncle Mike. I would say “Uncle Mike, Mary Ann knocked my glass over and I did not get to have any wine.” Naturally I had an 8 ounce glass with me. At age 4 I had already learned to manipulate people to get my drug of choice. It took 50 years to get clean and sober. Connect the dots.

    • Carl: I admire you so much for being clean and sober for as long as you have. It couldn’t have helped to have adults around to enable you. But look at you now. I don’t want to be anyone’s Uncle Mike, if you know what I mean, but it sure is hard to speak up in those situations.

  3. My favorite saying raising my child was, “Hate me now, love me later.” I believe if you give in to things to easily there will be problems down the road. I do not agree with underage drinking at all. At a party when Richie was 16 his uncle tried to give him a drink and I went bizerko! (if that is even a word and spelled right) If you are wondering this momma won and he got a soda. I am sure there are times my child hated me, but it was not my job to be his friend. He is now old enough to drink and I am thankful it is not his thing. Could it have turned out differently if I let him drink underage? I wasn’t taking that chance, not with my child. Peace❤

  4. If my kid asked me for alcohol, my answer would be an immediate no.

    • Do you allow a little wine at any religious holidays? We were allowed a taste during Shabbat and other religious holidays, but my parents were always clear that that was for religious observance NOT for excess. I have never been a drinker, so I have never understood the fascination with wanting to get alcohol. I think I needed to precede this post with another one about the day I decided I was NOT interested in pretending I liked alcohol. Maybe a prequel is in order, eh?

      • I think you should go for that prequel! I drink occasionally – probably one small glass of something every three to six months? It isn’t a big thing for me.

        I would be open to a discussion about a sip of wine for a religious observance. But actually I am very lucky that at this point my daughter wants no part in it. She is nine, so I don’t delude myself that we might not have to deal with this as she gets older…but for now she has a very set view about the legality issue.

        We were at a family member’s house last year, and they gave their 18 year old a glass of wine, and then the father asked me if my daughter would like a some. She answered for herself that as she was not 21 (actually she was eight at the time!), it wouldn’t be legal. The sad thing? That family has a 14 year old who has been in trouble with alcohol – the scariest moment was when he shoplifted a large bottle of vodka, and had to be rushed to the hospital to be treated for alcohol poisoning after he passed out from drinking the entire thing.

  5. I drank, as a much younger child. I was given small amounts (very small amounts) of various things – mostly liqueurs, occasionally sweet wine. I must’ve tried Scotch and other spirits but didn’t like them til I was in my late teens. I’m pretty sure I was ‘allowed’ sips in public even though it wasn’t legal, but we didn’t have the same attitude in those days as people do now. And these days I rarely drink at all. So my opinion? (albeit as a non-parent) – I’m more shocked at the attitude of Apple’s mother in giving in to her daughter, and in the attitude of Apple doing all that incessant nagging, than actually allowing the girl to drink.

    • Val: Like you, I was allowed sips of wine on Shabbat and special occasions. That is not what was going on here. I was shocked by Apple’s mother, too. I think many of us were and that is why we just didn’t know what to say. I’m not close to this woman, and I didn’t feel it was my place to tell her how to parent her child. But maybe it is. Maybe we all need to be up in each other’s business when it comes to this stuff a little more. Maybe that mother is just not aware that her daughter’s manipulations. Or maybe she is just exhausted and needs support. Her daughter was relentless, I’ll tell you. If she uses this super power for good, she’ll go far. But if she chooses to use it to go down the wrong path, she’s sunk.

  6. Awwww, hell naw!!!! My kids wouldn’t even dare try such a thing! That behavior cultivates early, you have to train the child as to who’s the boss and about ethics as soon as they land on the birthing table. It starts from day one. And if I were you, well you know I can’t hold back, Apple would have gotten a right upper cut to her clenched and pouty jaw. 🙂

  7. there is no easy answer – actually there is: No

  8. There is no flipping way in hell that any child of mine would have been given alcohol from my own hand when they were underage. I no longer drink for very good reasons. I do not keep booze in my house. If they want to have a beer at my house…all being a legal age now, the bring it and they carry it out. They almost never do that. I am also proud to say that my son who turned 21 in early July is still “dry as the Sahara desert,” as he says. What happened is just wrong on so many levels…gah!

    • Annie: i know this is a hot button for you. I feel the same way. I don’t understand why it is sooooo difficult for some parents to “just say no” to their kids, especially when they can say the LAW is on their side. And I agree, what went down that night was off on so many levels. Apple knew she was going to win. It was only a matter of time.

      AWESOME repost on sociopaths, BTW. I forwarded to a friend who needed to see that information.

  9. It’s sad that Apple’s parents don’t have boundaries. Everyone loses then. My kids know exactly what response they’ll get from their father and I if they ask for anything BS like that, and it ain’t the response Apple got. I can’t prevent them sneaking alcohol elsewhere in any way other than being present and being a decent example. They either will or they won’t. But the parents who believe “it’s better if they’re drinking with me because then they’re safe” are telling themselves a pack of lies. About pitting parents against each other, my #3 just brought up the Rice Krispie Treat incident. The very first week they came to live with us, she asked me if she could have a treat. I said no because dinner was almost ready. She then went & asked her dad, who was unaware of all of this and said yes. When I saw she had it, we busted her for going behind my back and the treat and the bite in her mouth went in the trash. She told me yesterday (6 years laters), “That was the last time I went behind either of your backs.”

    • I really do think that is the issue: boundaries. I wonder why some people can establish them easily and other people cannot. That said, your Rice Krispie Treat incident is a great example of the divide & conquer — and how to regain control afterwards. You two were on the same page with your parenting, so you got hold of the reins again.

      I don’t think Apple’s mom has ever felt the reins in her hands. Ever.

  10. I am totally appalled by this story! I know a few Apples though too and I know a few parents like Apple’s parents. And those parents often wonder “what they’re doing wrong.” You are so right about how we as parents make decisions we regret, but “giving in” to a child over things that are ILLEGAL is reprehensible.

    • I think Apple’s mom believes she is doing everything right. At least that is how she carries herself.

      My mother was horrible with boundaries and I don’t think it served me well. (Sorry, mom.) Maybe I wasn’t so different from Apple, but my dad was there to make sure that I was towing the line, so at least I had one parent who was willing to ground me or remind me where the boundaries were.

  11. I agree with so much of what has been said already.

    Boundaries are SO important in society (especially when they are associated with legal issues). If children don’t learn to respect boundaries at an early age through their parent/parents/guardians, then it falls on the system to teach them.

    We don’t do anybody any favors by giving children everything they want. Children aren’t stupid – they grow up and appreciate the benefits of firm parenting.

    • “We don’t do anybody any favors by giving children everything they want.”

      That, my friend, is TRUTH. I’m guessing. Apple’s mother probably believes that by giving Apple what she wants, she has made a “friendship” with her daughter.

      But in reality, she has taught her daughter to disregard the rules of society and, by extension, how to disrespect her mother at the same, too.

      • No doubt.

        And even for a parent that wants to go the “friend” route with their children, wouldn’t most parents tell their children to find friends that lift them up rather than bring them down?

        It seems kind of hypocritical that a parent would want to be the type of friend that they might warn their children against.

  12. Oh man, what a good topic. I have many reactions to this. Appalled at the parents for being such horrible examples and not having the backbones to just say no to their pouty teenager. I agree with the above poster . . . this was not the first time that child got a drink from her parent, and also not the first (or last) time she got her way by incessant pleading. I do think this is probably a drinking problem in the making at a way too young age. I am also confused as to why nobody else said anything. I know that society frowns on anyone commenting on other’s parenting skills, but this was more than bad (very bad!) parenting. This was illegal. Giving a teenager alcohol in public is completely against the law. If these people choose to allow the child to drink at home, that is one thing (not a good thing, but in their home, it is their choice), but out in public . . . no.

    I was a teenager that drank. I was 14 and had lots of older friends, and when my parents would go away for a week and leave me home, I would have big parties with lots of booze and shenanigans. But I never, in a million years, would think that my parents would approve nor would they allow me to have alcohol with them. I did this in secret! That’s what kids do. My parents would have kicked my ass! And having that fear kept me from just drinking all the time. I wasn’t just sitting around having cocktails with my folks. That is crazy.

    The thing about starting to drink that young is, that by the time I turned 21, I was kind of over it. I really hope Apple reacts this way, but it does not seem likely. Sounds like she already has a problem.

    • Misty! You touch on so many things here:

      “I am confused as to why nobody else said anything.”

      I didn’t say anything, really. I was truly a bystander. Aside from offering my ginger ale, I didn’t try to stop Apple in any direct way, except to remind her that she is a child and the KID party was in the other room. I think it is really difficult to parent other people’s kids in public. I kept wondering when Apple’s MOTHER was going to get tough with her.

      If my son were behaving that way, we would have left the party. He would have had one warning and that is it: Hubby and I would have dragged him out, even if it meant calling security and making a scene.

      The woman who did try to intervene was awesome. She tried to reassure Apple’s mother that she didn’t have to do that. She tried to get her to recognize the message that she was sending to the other teens at the party.

      I can only tell you that Apple’s mother didn’t want to hear it. She wanted to have fun. I don’t blame her. Sometimes, we want to kick back and relax. But we cannot sit back and watch out children break the law.

  13. Growing up, the rule my dad made with us was: I don’t care if you are going to drink, however, you are going to do it here in this house, and you will not be driving.

    We rarely ever had anything to drink, and when we did, it was always with our parents, or in there presence. We would never have thought of drinking outside our house. If my kids ever had the balls to ask for something alcoholic to drink in a public place, my immediate answer is, “No. Not a chance.” There are way too many risks. Nothing says, “We’re having a great time” like having DCF come and knock on your door taking your kids away. I’d say that Apple is a spoiled brat, who will either one day be put in her place, or end up on Real Housewives of Rochester, NY. Her parents need to put the smack down now, while they still have a chance.

    • Eric! Aha! So you were one of THOSE KIDS who were allowed to drink at home — just so long as you didn’t drive. So is this what you plan to do with your own kids? Or do you feel times have changed, so your parenting will have to change, too?

      The Real Housewives of Rochester, New York. Hahahahaha! Now THAT is hilarious.😉

      Everyone has to carry a Vera Bradley bag.

  14. Thoughtful post, ras-j…

    I loved your line Women looked at their rings and adjusted their bracelets.

    This, of course, has been going on forever… I remember a kid around 15 on a camping trip one evening, I think I was 9 or so, and he badgered everyone to have to get a drink. They were drinking screwdrivers (can you imagine that… on a camping trip… well it was the 50’s) and my father finally said okay and gave him a hi ball glass with a screwdriver inside.

    I think one of the problems these days, is that teens hate their parents. Especially girls with their mothers. It seems like parents want to be BFF’s rather than parents. It’s easier to finally give in to get the kid off their back. Your story describes my niece… and her parents. I am sure that your Apple has every product made by Apple… mine does.

  15. This is a very sad story. Sad that Apple wants alcohol when she’s 15, sad that she knows she can outlast her mom with whining and sad that her parents aren’t parenting her. We had a rule in our house that my 20 year old can recite back quickly – whining gets you nothing. Simple and effective but you have to live by this rule always or it won’t work. I don’t have high hopes for Apple. I bet she goes to the school of very, very hard knocks. Let’s just hope she graduates.

  16. Great topic. Please tell me this story isn’t true. Please. I felt sick to my stomach reading it. I hate the idea of anyone blaming the kid on this one – she’s the product of her parenting, and to me it’s really sad. That said, I know how hard it is to set and keep limits – exhausting is right. You covered this topic so well – I agree with you on all of it. I’d rather my kids have moments of hating me (lots of ’em if necessary) than never hearing the word “no” and needing to act out later. I’m off to think of something to say “no” to right now! Fabulous job on this!

  17. I really can’t remember if my parents ever let me snag a taste from their glass, but I am guessing no. My parents are pretty big on showing respect for the law of the land you live in.

    Would I give alcohol to my kid when he gets older and asks for it? So long as the law dictates that he can’t have it, he won’t. Because it is the law. Kids need to learn that they aren’t above the rules.

    On setting limits –
    I’m a new mom (my guy is only 3) but they start early on testing limits and they know when you given in and try whatever worked the next time. Did mommy give in when I screamed for 20 minutes straight? Did she give in when I made a fuss in public? They store all of that away YOUNG.

    There are days when it’s hard to stand your ground when you know giving in means peace. BUT that is a horrible reason to cave. You’re just setting yourself up for more fights in the future.

    • I think there is a big difference besides having a sip of something privately in your home vs. allowing your child to have a drink-drink in public.

      But.

      You are right.

      Setting those expectations about who is boss are set early. And kids remember who wins. They do. I think Apple’s mom stopped fighting the good fight a long time ago. Now she just had to endure the fighting. And now she will lose. Every. Single. Time.

      So uncomfortable to watch, I’ll tell you.

  18. I agree, Amber! My guess is that Apple started getting her way at a young age with a lot of things. My oldest is 14 and wouldn’t even want an adult beverage if I offered because of what she knows about responsible drinking and the possible dangers. And she is mature enough to not whine and beg for what she wants (no matter what it is) like a two-year-old. Her 4-year-old little brother is still learning that lesson but even he is starting to figure out that mom and dad mean “no” when they say “no”.

    Great post, Renee.🙂

    • I think you are spot on, Annie. And I can tell you with absolute certainty, Apple was allowed to do a lot of things that might raise eyebrows. I’m not sure her parents recognized what they were doing was establishing a dangerous pattern of behavior. I think they thought they were being cool. They have made their Apple, now they have to lie in the sauce. Or something like that.😉

  19. At this point, I think I would happily give my baby a bazooka and a bottle of mezcal if I thought it would keep her quietly occupied for 4 straight hours.

    (note to people reading this who don’t know me: my baby is 10 days old, and I’m kidding. I am not a monster)

  20. My parents and aunt and uncle co-owned a restaurant and bar for 16 years. I didn’t need alcohol when I had unlimited Kitty Cocktails, free access to Grape and Orange Crush too! But I was allowed a brandy slush with the rest of the family at Christmas. I don’t think I started even wanting to drink until high school and puking taught me a lesson about moderation loud and clear.

    Good for you for trying to deter Apple. Doesn’t sound like she’s on a very good path now.

    • Hi Jess! I’ve never been a drinker, and I didn’t mean to sound patronizing in this post. For me, alcohol is not something I’ve ever enjoyed. Ever. So I’m always confuzzled when kids try to steal it and get drunk. I’m all about the Canada Dry Ginger Ale.

      But don’t try and give me Schwepps. Things will get ugly if you give me Schwepps.

      Unlimited Grape & Orange Crush? Wow. You must have had the best birthday parties.😉

  21. So, today my inbox had your post and this one, http://momfaze.com/will-your-teenager-call-when-she-needs-help/ Yikes! Teenage drinking is, and always has been, a problem not just for the kids but also for us parents. The rule in our house is, “No drinking when in high school. Period. Then, when you get to college, we’ll talk.” This is because of many things, the most obvious being the whole drinking and driving issue. BUT, I have learned from experience that there is just no guarantee that your kid will – or won’t – develop a problem. There are so many approaches, and I think you have to adjust based on your particular family/child. That being said, I think the real issue here is not whether or not you allow your child to have an alcoholic beverage. Instead, I think it is about setting and keeping boundaries with kids (as you so accurately assessed). I have seen success with lots of different philosophies regarding alcohol and kids, but one thing that is certain to fail is if parents send inconsistent messages about the ramifications involved with risky behavior. And we love our kids and it is hard to be tough on them sometimes, but, IMO, when it comes to life-and-death behaviors, well, I just don’t think we have a lot of room for compromise there.

    • “If parents send inconsistent messages about the ramifications involved with risky behavior.”

      I think this is true for so many things, don’t you? If you have one parent playing the good cop and the other playing the bad cop, well…that’s just confusing! And I’m with you. I don’t think Apple’s parents recognize her behavior as being potentially life threatening. She clearly likes to drink. I wonder if they see it. Even though the behavior is right in front of their eyes, it’s sometimes so hard to see these things in our children. It’s definitely their blind spot. And I’m not close enough to them to be the one to tell them.

  22. I think Apple’s Mom should start saving now for rehab. Honestly, I have no patience for parents who let their kids boss them around. You wanted ’em. You go ’em. Do the right thing and be the boss of them. They’ll never thank you for it but they may still be alive once you’re dead.

  23. Parenting is a gift. Knowing right from wrong. Boundary is the key!
    Being consistent is the key! Being a good example is the key! Yes parents are just human and make mistakes. Unfortunately or fortunately we are products of our up-bringing. Maybe Apple can change and not be spoiled. Sometimes a swift kick in the ass can do it.
    She may grow up in spite of her mother and be a wonderful mother.

  24. Renee, Love this post. I agree it is very hard to parent, especially when kids are relentless. My son begged me for the video ” Call of Duty”. He was relentless. I gave in and bought him the game. I watched him play. I was disgusted..with myself. I sat with it. After a few weeks the momma in be came home. I removed the game, shared my feelings about games with guns, blood, murder and death and that was it…until a year late when he started in again with “but you let me get it once, what is the difference”. I had an easier time with it the second time around. I realized what I felt was good values and stuck to my guns. (not killing guns) He has stopped asking and has moved on to more healthy activities. I don’t think he hates me🙂

    • I give you a lot of credit for being able to recognize and then make the necessary changes in your home. Again, the kids will always test — and we can screw up. But we can always say: “Hey, this isn’t working” and start over. Kids will understand if ideas are presented rationally and consistently reinforced by BOTH parents.

      And I’m sure your kids don’t hate you. Probably.😉

  25. Wow if I had tried that with my parents over anything I would have been taken home. Begging over and over didn’t get you any where in my family.
    However I must admit I was 14 when I first got drunk at a family friends 21st birthday with my parents there. Though they had no idea until the next day. It was on a farm so they figured we had just disapeered to the trampoline or the haybarn, we had with a rather large stash of beer we had been sneaking. I learnt that hangovers are horrible and that drinking isn’t that much fun (at least for a few years).
    Our drinking age is 18 and it is very, very easy to get alcohol as a teenager as at least one of your friends has an older sibling to get it for you or in my brothers case at 16 he could just walk into the local shop and buy it himself, they even knew him by name at one point. Drinking is also quite socially acceptable.
    My parents took the route of educating us as much as they could and controlling where we were going, only to parties in which they knew the parents and a fair idea who was going. They also said they would pick us up from anywhere at anytime if we felt unsafe.
    I am not looking forward to my son becoming a teenager.

    • I come from a family where we didn’t do much drinking. Neither of my parents really drinks at all. I can’t even imagine getting drunk at 14. I used to pretend that I liked alcohol, but in reality, I didn’t. I became a very good designated driver. Very in demand.😉

      I am not so worried about my son. He’s such a rule follower. But I do worry about him being with other kids who want to break the law. I hope he has the good sense to separate himself from situations that could get him into a lot of trouble.

      Uh oh. Is that denial?

  26. I think the situation is sad, and wrong on so many levels. First, it sounds like Apple may not have too many friends her age. At most Bar Mitzvahs – and other parties with kids – the kids are usually happiest hanging together and avoiding the parents as much as possible. I remember Tech’s Bar Mitzvah where all the adults escaped to the bar to avoid the noise from all the Kids in the DJ room. I don’t remember any kids in the bar area. From what you said, Apple wasn’t coming over with friends saying “Can WE have a drink?” It was just her. Drinking alone at 15 seems like a sign of more problems ahead.

    It’s also an issue that she is 15. In less than a year she will be driving. A mom who has no trouble handing over her drink, will have no trouble handing over the car keys or enforcing a curfew. That is just scary for everyone.

    I hope the family is able to work things out.

    • Larisa, part of the problem may have been that Apple was in an odd age demographic. The party was for 7th graders — younger kids, about 12 and 13 years old. Apple was older — in high school: too cool for middle school aged kids. So she didn’t have many peers. She was truly in that place in between: neither a child nor an adult. That said, I agree with you about how scary she will be behind the wheel of a car. I worry more about her texting than drinking. The girl has bionic thumbs. Scary.

  27. This is wrong and sick and horrifying and of course incredibly illegal and immoral. Grrrr.

  28. I read this nodding my head. Yup. I’ve heard this story before. In the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. From recovering alcoholics who identify their problem going back to early teens.

    I’m not one of them. There was no alcohol in my life until I hit my early twenties. And, then, it became my best buddy and party prop. Onset of the disease is not age specific.

    This teen’s (seemingly frantic) focus on getting alcohol into her system — any alcohol (as evidenced by the fact she chugged back both her father’s choice, her mother’s, and what she hoped was in your drink) — has all the markers for alcoholism.

    I’m happier now than I ever was back-in-the-day when I thought I needed alcohol in order to “fit in, be funny, be witty, and relax.” Guess what!?! I love parties. I mingle with drinkers without craving one. I can be witty and engaging. And (bonus!) I’m well-qualified to act as Designated Driver.

    I’m appalled by her parent’s behavior. I fear what is going to happen to this teen.

    • Hi Gloria! Alcohol has never agreed with me. It just hasn’t. I don’t know why. In high school, I used to take my big red cup and dump a little bit of its contents at a time on the grass. Or visit the bathroom and dump a little liquid down the sink. Or flush a bit down the toilet. Until I realized that was stooooopid. Then, like you, I morphed into the most fabulous designated driver.😉

      I worry about this girl, too.

  29. Apple needed, as we say in the South, a knot torn off that narrow azz. But I suspect so did her mother.

    Perhaps it was the times or perhaps it was the European influences. We were given watered wine at special dinners. Just like we were given milk and expresso with dessert. My parents and their friends would leave half full cocktails on the table when they wandered off to do something else, my brother and I never touched them (the dogs did once and paid a steep price). Alcohol was always around our house, my granddad owned a liquor store. Though I tasted Southern Comfort once when I was about 14 (bleech) I didn’t drink (other than watered wine) until I was an adult, it simply wasn’t interesting.

    All the adults in my family drank, simply not in excess. I saw my dad drunk one time in my life. Happily tipsy at Oktoberfest in Munich. I suspect my granddad was drunk more often, I simply don’t remember.

    • Like all good Jews, we always had Manschwitz at every religious occasion. And as kids, we could even have a little bit. It was sweet — almost too sweet. But after a few sips, I never wanted more. And my parents were careful to make sure there wasn’t other alcohol about the house. They weren’t drinkers. Drinking wasn’t modeled in my immediate family.

      I don’t know how things work in Apple’s family, but I know her dad drinks. And I know Apple thinks that she looks cool holding a drink. She really wanted to HOLD a wineglass. It was odd. Truly. I kept wondering, am I supposed to do something? Say something? I felt I was doing enough by trying to just be me: a fun girl at a party who doesn’t need alcohol.

      I don’t think it worked.😦

      • I don’t drink either, I miss wine with dinner sometimes but not enough to risk a seizure. When I developed epilepsy after the shooting that was simply something I had to give up. I think because it was something that was around but not done in excess we simply didn’t think much about it. Neither my brother nor I ever became excessive drinkers. We just didn’t think about it the way our friends did I guess. My kids never really drank either. Oh, I know they both tried it but their father was alcoholic and they understand the risks so now days they don’t find it very interesting (I am fortunate in them).

        I don’t think you can model for her, she has been trained already. Sad really.

  30. Oh poop. I commented on this yesterday from my phone and I don’t think it went through! I said a) you always write about the most compelling topics, and b) that the part that really bothers me about this story is the overall disrespect Apple showed to her parents. I agree kids need to hear ‘No!’

    • Apple’s father had NO IDEA that his daughter had drained his glass. Seriously. He handed it to her and went right back to his conversation. He looked bewildered as to where his dink had gone. Nor did he realize that his daughter had come to his wife to ask for more. And to be fair, Apple’s mother had NO IDEA that her daughter had drained her father’s glass.

      It was scary, watching it all unroll. I probably should have done/said more, but it was awkward.

      It was an epic fail on my part maybe.

      I definitely felt like a bystander, which sucked.

  31. It is so hard to witness things like that and not say something. I am so glad that my kids are 20 and 22. My son doesn’t even drink anymore. It is overrated….

    • I’m soooo with you. I think drinking is sooooo overrated. But it is so glamorized. Even in the blogosphere, people often offer cyber-glasses of wine. Truth be told, I prefer the cyber cupcakes. They have no calories, so I usually take about eight.😉

      Give me strength because I this stuff is just starting with my son. I sincerely hope that my husband and I have modeled how to be responsible when it comes to alcohol.

  32. I have a friend whose parents let him drink alcohol and smoke when he first asked to, at age four. He took one sip and a partial puff and hasn’t touched either again since.

    I agree with what you so poignantly pointed out. Kids will test limits and parents should step in as adults, not friends or irritated “I’d rather be partying” adults. Easy for me to say, as a non-parent, though… If my dog asked for booze, I’d put my foot down!

  33. I drank underage, without my parents’ knowledge. I was still underage at 18, but responsible and mature and rarely drank because I worked the breakfast shift at the local truckstop – trust me when I tell that greasy eggs and bacon do NOT go well with hangovers. So, I’d have a few beers with friends and family around the bonfire in the backyard. No one drove, everyone slept over in tents or in spare beds and the next morning, we’d help clean up and my Dad made coffee. Fun, safe, respectable. My parents trusted us, WE trusted us.

    That said, if I had behaved even a teensy bit the way Apple did, they’d have shut me down and fast. How embarrassing for that mother – I am so surprised she let Apple nag you all that way, let alone that she gave in. For the sheer social face-saving value, I reckon I’d have hauled her butt outta there for a stern talking to.

    There are some dangerous lessons being learned and taught when we allow our need to “have a good time” interfere with our ability to recognize that our children are behaving badly or worse, following our example of what “a good time” looks like.

    I hope that I can approach drinking the same way my parents did with me and so that any secrecy or sneaking around is short-lived. But first, I need to raise my sons to be worthy of that trust and respect toward their decisions.

    Tall order. Yikes.

    • I think you are right about discretion. When I was a teen and there was drinking — because of course there was — we were being sneaky, but cautious, too. We were careful not to get caught. We didn’t flaunt our behavior. That’s why I think this was really more of a cry for help. She soooo wanted to be noticed. And maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill.

      But I know how these things can end up.

      After all, I teach at a community college. Some kids are there because their parents don’t trust them to leave home: too many temptations. I would hate for that to happen. She has a lot of potential.

  34. This is a girl who is used to getting her way and has probably done this dance many times before. Getting your parents to give you booze openly takes some balls, brass balls. And when parents relent that quickly, it doesn’t show much for the amount of respect she will have for them, because if its this easy to get by on this, why not abuse it further.

    What the heck is wrong with Shirley Temples? That’s what I used to have.

    • Hi Masala: I know the boundaries have been loose. That’s all I can say, truly. I don’t know about what she has asked her parents for before — maybe this was the first time. It was just so very public and so very uncomfortable. If it were to happen again, I would say something more direct to the child and the parents.

  35. This story has been bugging me since I read it, and reading it again makes me think that alcohol wasn’t really what she was after it was attention.
    “Apple’s mother shooed her away” then when she tried again “Apple’s mother turned her back to her daughter” so she asks everyone else which I assume her mother also ignored. Her father didn’t even notice what she did and then her mother just handed over cash saying barely a sentence.

    I remember having a behaviour specialist come into my class to work with one of my kids and she said find out what need isn’t being met, meet the need and the behaviour decreases or disappears.
    Is her need for love and attention being met? Bexause children will go a long way, generally in the wrong direction to get that need met,

    • Kelliefish: Remember, this is me and my interpretation of what was happening. I could be totally off. Except for the dialogue, my analysis could be waaay off. Maybe Apple is in therapy. Maybe the family is trying to work through out. Maybe Apple has run away and her parents have decided that having her there asking for alcohol is better than worrying about her sleeping in some kind of ditch or prostituting herself for money. Because that stuff happens, too. So I don’t really know what is going on in this family. It was one night. One moment where I felt like a bystander. Maybe I didn’t convey that well enough. But next time, no matter what the social repercussions, I will say something.

  36. Hi! Glad I found you through Susie Lindau’s Wild Ride…I think that Apple’s behavior is indicative of an emerging drinking problem….sometimes a parents love CAN help to get the child back on track and it’s ALWAYS worth the very hard work that goes into parenting…..No matter how angry it made my child, I stepped in when I found that he was headed off track..No way was I EVER going to just turn my child over to a life of misery…but…sometimes, no matter how hard we try, life takes control away from us…

    • Hi Zannyro! Nice to meet you, and welcome to my place. Susie is fabulous, isn’t she? I agree that a parent’s love can be transformative. And I believe this girl’s parents sooooo love her. The question is do they know how to handle her. Sometimes love isn’t enough. There are action steps that people have to take which can be difficult if one doesn’t know what to do. And while I agree sometimes life has its own plans for us, I would argue nothing is set in stone for this teen. I believe that she can turn herself around.

      • It is really hard to know how to handle a person with an issue like this….I’ve watched a show called “intervention”, many times….amazingly, when my husband’s sister had gotten out of rehab and was still furiously angry with the world and her mother…I told my husband…in your next text with her, tell her you love her…he did and they started to find a way back to each other, so that he could help her…this seemed to be the message in each and every episode of the show…let them know that you love them…..I certainly never thought that they could go forward instead of continuing to slide backward..but it’s been amazing.

        • I’m so sorry I am just seeing your follow up to this post. I live the show INTERVENTION. It is one of my “guilty pleasures.” I say that because I feel terrible watching these people whose lives have come unglued. Everyone is obviously in so much pain. I don’t like how the show abruptly ends. I wish they would do a reunion show so we could find out the success stories.

          I’m sorry to hear about your husband’s sister. But I am glad they are finding their way back to each other. By now, hopefully that relationship has grown stronger. I think it must be so hard to rebuild trust after living through like that. I know family members feel so betrayed. My best for you in the new year.

          • Wishing you a happy new year also :)….as a footnote, My husband’s relationship with his sister IS stronger and Mother and daughter are doing better together….the turning point really was when he added, “ I love you” to a text……the show really knows what it’s talking about.

  37. Pingback: Lessons Learned (Vol. Three) | ateachablemom

  38. NOT OVER-REACTING!!! Being a parent is hard, but the day our child is born not the only day we give life to them. Every decision that demonstrates our love, care, concern for them in the present and in their future gives them life. Alcohol is a deadly substance, one no parent should hand over to a whining, wheedling child. Neither is mature enough to handle the consequences. Thanks for caring about the Apple of her parents’ eyes.

    • D’Alta. Sorry to reply so ate to this one! I felt I failed here. Truly. Looking back, I should have said more. And I could now. Except my husband is adamant that I leave it alone. He feels like people know who I was writing about, that this piece was very obvious to anyone at this party. I kind of hope that mom DOES read this post. Maybe my words would sting a bit, but maybe she would see I was coming from a place of concern. Or maybe someone to apologize to next year at Rosh Hashana. *shrugs*

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