I have two kids: a daughter who is seven and a son who is six. I am a single parent with split custody of them. And I am a recreational pot smoker. When my children were small, I didn’t worry over what I would tell them about weed. As a new stoner parent answering kids’ questions, I wasn’t ashamed of my use and I knew that I would be frank with them about it.
But as they get older they become more and more curious about it, and their questions are more direct.
My son, for example, found my copy of Green Buds and Hash, the parody by Dana Larsen. He was obviously interested, as the cover is modelled after the Dr. Seuss story with the similar name. “What’s this, Mom?” he inquired. “It looks like my book.”
It gave me pause, the answers that seemed so clear when he was an infant got stuck in my throat. I responded with “That’s a book for grown-ups.” I even went as far as getting a little impatient with him for asking why, even though it looked just like a book already present on their book shelf.
I was uncomfortable with the questions, and I was mad at myself for not following through on the conviction I thought I had armed myself with. Why did I respond that way, when I feel candid information is power in their hands?
A little more insight to who I am on the regular: I am a performer with a flirtatious reputation, and a model. I identify as a nudist — a hard earned realization due to a very religious upbringing. I am also proudly sexual. I’ve been open and honest with them in an age-appropriate way about being myself. It’s not always easy, and I know that my lifestyle will be more difficult to discuss the older they get. I am prepared for one of them to come home upset when some jerk kid taunts “I saw your mom’s tits on the internet.” And while I don’t want them to hurt or be embarrassed, I look forward to giving them life lessons about personal choice and perceptions.
So, why would I freeze during this important conversation about cannabis? The roof I put over their heads, the food they eat, their toys and clothes — they are all paid for by the marijuana industry. My parents know about what I do. It’s the best job I’ve ever had, full of opportunity, experiences, and understanding that my schedule ultimately revolves around my kids. And while I keep my pot out of reach, it’s not out of sight any more than is my monthly box of red wine that I might have a glass from after their bedtime. They don’t see it as something bad, just something for grownups. When asked “What’s that?” “That’s my marijuana, and it’s not for kids” has provided enough answer, previously.
I suppose my growing reluctance to speak to them about pot may be because of its legalities or lack thereof. What if one of them says something to the wrong staff member at their school, and a witch hunt begins? I’m already a ways off of traditional parenting. That said, I am active in their school life. Anything I am capable of attending at their school, I am there. I help them with their homework. I do what I can to help them fit in at school. I am a far cry from a neglectful parent; I’m not the person who should have their children removed from her home.
But I know there are still people out there that see pot in line with cocaine and meth, and they are still making decisions. If they found at one time the right combination of dirty floors, a suitcase full of lingerie from my last photoshoot, and a bag of weed, by all rights, BC Child Protection Services could decide to take my kids away. That’s terrifying. I don’t think that’s going to happen, mind you, but I’ve been around the block enough to know it’s a chance I don’t want to take. I’m not a perfect mother, but I am fiercely protective of my children. And while mommy having a glass of wine might come with a knowing nod, I am not so sure I’d get the same reaction about a joint.
So what is the answer? What should I have said about the book? I don’t want to tell them to lie. And I have never really hidden my usage from them. So, am I protecting them by taking an out of sight–out of mind approach to my marijuana usage? Or am I teaching them that cannabis is negative by hiding it but not alcohol? Am I hurting them by not teaching them to stand up for what they believe in? Then again, who am I to force my lifestyle and choices on them, on any subject matter?
I’m not critiquing anyone who handles the conversation differently. What is right for my family might not be right for yours. The only thing I know for sure is that I am looking forward to marijuana’s legalization, which will make the dialogue much easier. In the meantime, I think I’ll keep hiding behind a smokescreen.