Drips from a Dry Paddle
by Dave Thompson
I often begin these stories with a claim that it is a true story. In this case, I make no such claim, but I do say that the story is a universal truth about parenting. I will use universal names to make sure that I do not expose the guilty…
In this story, winter had just ended and although the weather was on the cool side of comfortable, there would be no more sub-zero temperatures for several months.
However, gloves and mitts still resided by the back door and Dad grabbed a pair of mitts while calling for the family dog.
It was time to take the dog for a “business trip” on the back lane.
The dog, of course, responded to the call with bounding enthusiasm and off the pair went out the back door, down the path to the gate, and out to the lane.
Dad released the dog from the leash, and the bending over movement caused the mitt to brush past his face.
He smelled smoke!
Then he realized that the mitts he was wearing were not his mitts. They belonged to Son.
Smoke? What did it mean? He struggled with a terrible thought!
Son was only sixteen-years old and clearly, he was smoking. How stupid was that? It was perhaps the stupidest thing the boy could do.
Dad was now getting upset more and more by the minute. What was he to do?
He had to convince the boy that he should stop smoking at once for the sake of his health.
He needed to get back home.
The dog was chasing other smells, generally behaving like a great hunter. But he was not a great hunter.
The dog’s imagination triumphed over reality, and he kept circling, hoping for a conquest. Finally, he came to Dad and the leash was re-connected by an increasingly agitated Dad.
They entered the house, and Dad immediately called for Son.
Son replied, “In the living room, Dad.”
Obviously, Son was unaware of the dark cloud that was about to descend upon him.
Dad was desperately trying to stay calm and reasonable. But his words came out harshly.
“Have you been smoking?”
Son, “What do you mean?”
Dad, “Cigarettes! Have you been smoking cigarettes?”
Son, “No, I have not!”
Dad paused. Son was looking straight at him. He appeared to be telling the truth.
Dad backed off, and started walking in small circles, but never completing a circle before stopping to reverse direction. He and his dog had much in common.
His mind was in a turmoil. There had to be an answer! He continued to rotate back and forth.
Then he stopped dead in his tracks. He just had a horrific thought. Weed! Son could be smoking weed!
He turned to the boy. “Have you been smoking weed?”
Son’s eyes dropped. He said, “I might have had one!”
The tone was one of outrage and astonishment. His son was a junkie! How did that happen?
Dad and Mom had always nourished their children, had always done their best for them.
OK! Maybe it was growing pains.
Dad felt defeated. What was to be done?
His first thought was to take control, heavy and hard. Demand compliance. Read the riot act. Lay down the law. Obey or else!
Or else what? Dad felt helpless again and then it occurred to him that negotiation was possible. Try for the lesser of evils.
“Son,” he said, trying to sound reasonable. “You know that the weed that’s on the street could be laced with anything. What’s available can only come from criminals. You’re putting your life in their hands. You can’t trust them.”
“But, Dad, I only smoked one!”
“Doesn’t matter. One could kill. I tell you what! If you promise me that you will not smoke weed again, I’ll let you have beer in the house.”
“You’ll let me have beer in the house?”
“Yes! Even though you are under drinking age.”
Son hesitated briefly and then said, “OK! It’s a deal.”
Dad felt a profound sense of relief. At least beer was regulated and controlled.
And it was something that Dad understood. After all, in his youth he had strayed a little himself.
By allowing Son to bring beer into the house he could monitor the situation.
Son said, “So, Dad? I can bring beer into the house?”
“Yes! A deal is a deal!”
With that, Son got up, went out the back door, reached under the deck and came in with a six-pack of Coors Light.
“Can I keep it in the fridge?”