Saturday, June 17, 2006

Drugs and the demise of childhood

Not a day goes by where I’m not grateful for this beautiful valley we live in. My morning walks take me about an hour (3 miles) and I get to thoroughly enjoy the views of the Pennines and the lush, green fields around me. The morning birdsong and the sun rising over the hills is incredibly glorious and never fails to delight me. I especially enjoy it if I’m walking early before the farmers are up and about in their noisy, smelly tractors. It always feels luxurious to get this time to myself if I manage to get a walk in before Paul and the girls wake up. More often than not, I do this walk again after the night time meal, girls in tow, lots of chattering going on which makes the walk an entirely different experience! The daily walk is one of the highlights of my life ~ a chance to truly absorb the beauty of this rural piece of England.

My rural bliss was dampened this week somewhat.

Last week I shared my discomfort around unruly and disrespectful behaviour at our local swimming pool. Imagine my dismay this week when I realised five of the teenage boys had been snorting (cocaine) within fifty metres of where my daughters were swimming! OK, let me be clear about this and say that I didn’t SEE them do it, but I’d bet my life on it that that’s what happened.

There is one boy in particular who always catches my eye because he reminds me of a boy I had a crush on at school, oh about 25 years ago. He’s tall, cute, well tanned and really ‘cool’. Always wearing sunglasses so as to create an aura of ‘mystery’. He’s probably a real Babe Magnet at school. You know the type…

Anyway, it has become part of my ‘people watching’ time to observe him from the perspective of a woman-seeing-40-at-the-back-end-of-next-year, rather than how I would have seen him as a teen.

On Monday I noticed one of the other boys *slyly* put something into his hand when he arrived at the pool. My first thought was ‘what are they hiding here?’ Had I not witnessed this moment I’d not have given a second thought to what followed later and probably wouldn’t have kept watching.

Babe Magnet put ‘it’ into his pocket and then went off behind the bushes to where a small stream runs. A few minutes later one of the other lads followed…and a few more minutes later, another boy followed and so on until all five of them had gone.

After about 20 minutes when they returned, one by one, they all sat on the bench just a metre from where I was sitting on the grass and then spent about five minutes rubbing their noses. All of them doing the same thing? All of them needing to dislodge some irritation in their nasal passages?

What would your conclusion be?

I mentioned it to one of the mums on the swimming pool committee and she said, “No, not those boys! No, absolutely not!” And then she walked away from me. Clearly it was just not something which could be taken on board. She absolutely refused to believe it was even possible.

Paul went into the local police station, not to dob anyone in, but to find out what the likelihood of it was. Sadly, the policeman said cocaine is rife in the local schools and able to be bought very cheaply.

We live in a culture of denial. No one wants to think ‘nice’, young teenage lads (or girls) are snorting coke. What’s happening to our kids that drug use in schools is something like 1 in 5 kids? It’s probably fair to say that the rates of drug abuse among home-educated teenagers probably doesn’t even register a percentage…though I’m sure it does happen.

Cocaine helps kids get through the school day. It puts a smile on their face…they can look at their science teacher and feel good. They can head on over to maths and still feel good. But why on Earth would anyone ‘need’ it at the swimming pool for goodness sake??!! More than likely it’s because they’re addicted. They need the ‘ecstatic’ rush and ‘feel good’ factor that it gives them even if it is only for about 39 minutes. But what have we done to our kids that their lives feel so bland as to need drugs like this? What have we done!!??

The most important question really relates to where the ‘need to be addicted’ started…was it lack of oral comfort as a child? Was it lack of parent time in infancy? Too many hours in a car seat or pram rather than mother’s arms? Too much time in front of Bob the Builder rather than playing in the sandpit? Too much synthetic ‘food’ in lieu of nutritious food?

Taking cocaine (or any drug) as a teenager is a symptom NOT a cause and to heal the situation, personally and culturally, we have to take an honest step back to get a clearer view.

I have complete faith that my own children won’t even try drugs when they’re teenagers or adults. How can I be so sure? Well, despite many people pointing their finger at my parenting style in the lead up and wake of the documentary on full-term breastfeeding (thinking my kids would grow up psychologically screwed up), I feel my kids have had their needs met (and continue to have them met). The whole being greater than the parts, so to speak, the reasons are many and include:

*They love life! The pleasure they receive from the simple things, such as a flower coming into blossom or a dog bounding up to them, is priceless and innocent in a culture that is deadened and desensitised. Daily they witness parents who too take delight in such things ~ parents who never miss the opportunity to appreciate a sunset or the smile of a stranger.

*They’ve grown up in a way as to explore their imagination. No tv, for example. They’re just starting to use the internet, albeit minimally. Yesterday they looked up ‘kitten photos’ and the pros and cons of school.

*I’ve always endeavoured to feed them high-quality, nutritious plant-based foods so their body is able to digest it easily and save valuable energy for developing a strong immune system and healthy brain.

*We talk to them! Now that’s a novel idea in our culture ~ parents actually talking to their children. There isn’t such a thing as a generation gap but a communication gap.

*We eat meals together.

*They're taught about 'creating their own reality' rather than being brought up to believe they're victims.

*We spend lots of time together in nature whether that be out walking or in the garden. Being in tune with Mother Nature and the cycle of the seasons and moon times brings out latent spirituality. When we feel good about ourselves we have no need to ‘add’ something else to the mixture or to experience stimulants.

This morning Paul, the girls and I went to a local café. There just happened to be an article in The Times (Body and Soul section, I think) about a common drug out and it gave before and after photos of people who were taking it and to see how dramatically and drastically these people had changed in the course of one to two years was absolutely painful to see. It was a perfect illustration to show my children in light of our discussions this week about drugs and the damage they cause.

Addictions are all around us but because they’re so ingrained in our culture most people don’t see them as addictions but as necessities.

For example,

television (it is a rare person in the UK with a tv who isn’t hooked on Big Brother, for example)

caffeine (in all its various forms)


alcohol (it all starts with that drink after work that you *need* to relax…but can you actually live without it?)

retail therapy (where would you be if you had your credit cards taken away?)

processed foods (yes, it is an addiction ~ try living for a week without processing your food in any way, which includes cooking, the most common processing).

We need to tackle all addictions within our home and society. We need to raise our kids whole, happy and healthy...happy with who they are and NOT what they do.

My initial sadness at realising those teenage lads were wasting their vibrant youth in this way, has been replaced by a greater confidence in how I’m raising my family.

I’ve experienced even more joy than usual this week as the girls have helped plant vegetable seeds and pot up marigolds and scabious. Each day we create a stronger foundation for them to lead healthy lives right through adulthood. As we sit in the evening sunshine eating our meal together, I give silent thanks that my daughters truly enjoy life. I give thanks that they don’t live with a daily NEED for Barbie, Nike or Coca Cola, computer games or a desperation to ‘text’ someone.

If enough of us parent consciously and wholeheartedly maybe we’ll set off a chain reaction (100th monkey syndrome) and reverse the current culture which is ending the innocence of childhood? It all starts with saying NO to outside forces which don’t promote well-being and saying YES to our intuition regardless of what others may say, do or think.

Have a fabulous week and be inspired and grateful for all the amazing things in your life! :-)

~ Veronika ~


HugoMummy said...

Hi Veronika,
Thanks again for another lovely and thought-provoking post: it always cheers me up to read your blog. I wanted to write that I think the main reason young people take drugs is to appear cool, rather than being addicted. Maybe it does not really make a lot of difference, but I do think that unschooling your children means that they will feel secure and confident in making decisions that are right for themselves, rather than desperately trying (and failing, if they are anything like me LOL) to fit in to a group.

I have a question too:- I am very interested in radically unschooling my son, but I am only able to find radical unschooling sites and forums that encourage parents to waive controls over the tv, computer and diet (which I do not agree with- I do not want a TV and a healthy diet is very important in my opinion). I feel a little anxious about putting my thoughts down on those forums, since they can be quite critical in their judgements and generally all hold a similar point of view. Do you see what I mean? Do you know of any supportive groups with a more holistic approach to radical unschooling?

Thanks for your time- both answering questions and the blog!

Emma xx

Veronika said...

hi emma ~ i've not been on any egroups or forums in ages so can't recommend any..however if you look for home ed/school groups rather than unschooling groups you might have more luck. It is unfortunate that many people think radical unschooling means complete libertarianism. Kids need guidelines as much as adults do.
Our whole universe is based on 'laws'. We can still have complete freedom within this..

do some google searches on home ed..the free range side of it will be what you're looking for