Daddy Drinks is a regular column where our Drink Editor examines the intersection of booze, parenting and life in general.
I overheard a trainer at my gym giving his client a lecture about how alcohol is bad for you. Something about simple carbs. First of all, I’m pretty sure that’s bullshit propaganda. Second, this trainer obviously doesn’t have children. Because if he did have kids, he’d understand how alcohol is very, very good for you. This is a scientific fact that I didn’t comprehend myself until I had a couple of kids.
It’s not that I didn’t drink before I had children. I drank. Some would say I drank a lot. (Picture me cruising in a cab on I-75 through downtown Atlanta, the cab driver yelling at me as I’m puking out the window). But I didn’t truly appreciate the importance of alcohol until my wife gave birth to our first and second child at the same damn time. Turns out, raising twins requires a low, but consistent blood alcohol content level at all times.
Don’t get me wrong, we have wonderful children. They’re relatively polite, listen pretty well, do their homework and kind of eat dinner, sometimes. But they’re children, and there’s two of them, so sometimes you’ll leave them alone for 37 seconds and they’ll redecorate the living room with glue sticks and glitter. That shit ain’t coming out of the rug. Sober, I lose my shit in that scenario. A solid two-beer buzz, and I’m somehow able to see the big picture. It’s just a rug. The kids are still cute. I might even compliment them on their use of color. Very “Jackson Pollock.”
I’m a better parent when I’m drinking. I’m more patient, and some situations require more patience (ie: more booze) than others. Ironically, those trying situations are usually the ones that demand stone-cold sobriety. I’m thinking specifically about chaperoning school field trips here.
I don’t know what has happened to our public school system since I was a kid, but my children go on an average of one field trip per day. When I was in elementary school, we were lucky to get one field trip a year, and that was usually to a Civil War battlefield where they wouldn’t let you play on the cannons. Lame. My kids have been to the pumpkin patch, the apple farm, the firehouse, the art museum, a commercial kitchen, on a downtown walking tour of graffiti sites…I think they even got to witness spinal surgery at the hospital. We’re cutting PE, music and art to make more room for science and math, but maybe if my kids spent less time hand pressing apple cider in the mountains during school hours, they’d be able to read gooder.
And as the rate of field trips has increased, the need for parents to volunteer on those field trips has also increased. Because I work from home, my kids’ teachers don’t think I have a job, so I’m always at the top of the list of potential chaperones.
Side note: Just because I’m still in my pajamas at 2:15 in the afternoon doesn’t mean I’m not contributing to our nation’s gross domestic product. We all have different roles to play.
When you’re a chaperone on a field trip, you get assigned your own group of kids. Your basic job is to make sure those kids don’t get lost in the corn maze and don’t try to shove bugs up their nose. If you can keep them from stealing shit, that’s great too, but mainly just get back on the bus with the same number of kids you started with. Sounds simple enough, but goddamn it, other people’s kids are stupid. Have you noticed that? How stupid other people’s kids are? Volunteer to chaperone an elementary school field trip some day. You’ll see. It’s an epidemic. An epidemic that requires patience (remember, when I say “patience,” I mean “booze.”) And listen, I understand that other parents probably feel the same way about my kids. Each parent has a high tolerance for his own kid’s stupidity, but an amazingly low tolerance for other people’s kids’ stupidity. It’s a universal truth.
From what I can tell, I never signed any document that said I wouldn’t bring a six pack with me on these field trips. And yet, I feel like mandatory sobriety is implied through some sort of unwritten and unspoken parent/teacher understanding. And because I respect the hell out of teachers, who have to deal with other people’s children (including mine) every damn day, I volunteer often and I show up sober. But trust me, that 45-minute school bus ride to the apple orchard where random kids ask me over and over how old I am and then laugh and say, “oh my god!” when I tell them my age would be so much better with a couple of IPAs.
A few other parenting situations that would be better with booze: Dance recitals. Parent/Teacher conferences. Having to pick up your kid early from a sleepover… because your kid has lice. Coaching youth soccer (Fact: all boys registered in the Under-7 Youth Association Soccer League are monkeys who will throw poop at you if you turn your back on them). I think they should hand out flasks when they distribute the coaches’ uniforms.
Let us know what parenting situations require booze in the comments section below.
Graham Averill is the Drink Editor at Paste. He spends most of the daylight hours trying to keep his kids from dressing the dog like a pirate. He also writes about the mini-van life at Daddy Drinks.