As former teenagers, we get it. As parents, we don’t.
Summer, in all its glory, tempts even the “best” kids with sizzling summer romance, impromptu parentless parties, and yes, even cheap alcohol (Boone’s Farm, anyone?) to fuel fleeting summer excitement.
Music enhances summer exhilaration as teens converge in the twilight hours to share a few stolen beers and (hopefully) innocent kisses. Remember Summer Nights from Grease? All Summer Long from Kid Rock? Summer in the City by Lovin’ Spoonful? Summertime by Janis? Summer of ’69 by Bryan Adams? In the Summertime by Mungo Jerry. Pretty much anything by the Beach Boys? Ah, the memories.
Okay, I’m dating myself, but just tell me these immortalized songs don’t bring back a tingle of wistful memories lost in the recesses of your mind. You can thank me later.
Of course, now we are responsible parents who have buried those sweet summer sensations and replaced them with endless swim lessons, park district programs, visits to the pool, and reading incentive programs (my personal favorite).
Our teens eagerly head out for the evening as we shout, “Don’t forget curfew!!” “Make good choices!” “I’ll be waiting up for you to smell your breath!” Frankly, I think they tune out the minute we open our mouths, but hey, at least we said our piece.
Unfortunately, it is not all fun and games. This week our local news station, WGN, presented an engaging report about music festivals, alcohol poisoning, and young people. I hesitate to say teens, because quite frankly, it can happen to anyone. However, teens seem to have an especially difficult time reading the “STOP!” cues from their immature brains.
In Chicago, Lollapalooza is one of the biggest events of the year. It is a blast – one of my favorite life memories. Unfortunately, I believe I’ve “aged out” of the event.
Lolla is scorching hot. The days are long. The bands are exciting. It is crowded beyond crowded. There are several water stations, but there are long lines. Lots of lines, for everything. In other words, even if alcohol isn’t involved, it is a risky event merely by being in the hot, unforgiving sun. Yes, people must have wristbands to obtain alcohol, but with tens of thousands of people present we know how well that works.
The end result, according to this informative and enlightening report by WGN reporter Dina Bair, is an onslaught of ER visits to local hospitals, including Lurie Children’s Hospital.
Click on the above link.
Watch the news report.
Watch the news report with your child.
Discuss ways in which your child can stay safe. Here’s a cheat sheet for you:
- Don’t drink alcohol.
- Hydrate after each alcoholic drink they (don’t) drink.
- Get out of the heat as often as possible.
- Be sure to have emergency contact info on the wristbands and on their phone, as suggested by the report.
- Chaperone your child, or at least have someone in the general area of the event, according to the report.
- Call your child frequently. Okay, just occasionally or they may stop answering.
- Don’t freak out if they don’t answer the phone right away – it is really, really loud at concerts, remember?
- Explain the consequences related to bad decision-making.
- Discuss safety measures if a friend over-imbibes. (Hydrate, get out of the sun, call 911 or bring them to a first aid tent, turn to their side to prevent aspiration of vomit. Keep in mind alcohol is a depressant. That means if a person drinks too much, it can depress their body systems, including the respiratory system. If their respiratory system is depressed, it won’t work. That is a big deal. We need oxygen.)
- Hit them with the “cool factor” defense: Discuss the humiliation associated with vomiting/hospitalization/fill-in-the-blank.
- Never take any drink from anyone they do not know and trust.
- Stick with your friends.
- Tell your child you love them. You may not always like their decisions, but you love them and want them safe and to PLEASE CALL if there is any emergency at all.
- Finally DON’T DRINK ALCOHOL.
Talk about this issue before they head out into the wild. I mean concert.
Take your child out for an ice cream, dinner, lunch…whatever. Connect with your child. Talk. This isn’t the time for lectures; they need to be informed, educated, and engaged. A teenager is more likely to make a good decision if it is their decision, not their mother’s or father’s. So help “guide” them make good decisions. (Wink.) Ask open-ended questions. Play “what if” with them. Remember, the goal here is to keep them healthy, safe, and alive, not to shame and judge.
Rock On, Mom and Dad!