containment in ceremony

This is for Taleweaver #147 – What brings you joy?

My minister talks about containment in ceremony.

That the ceremony can be a container for us to handle our worst selves and our best selves safely.

The Catholic mass is an example, particularly when it was in Latin. That it takes us through horror and suffering and death and then resurrection. This past weekend we performed the Mozart Requiem, from grief through joy.

My minister says that Western Civilization has lost the container for spirituality in the churches and instead holds the sacred in a love relationship. He says that the projection of one’s best self on the loved one can then flip into the projection of one’s worst, if we are not careful. We are attracted to people who have some of the aspects that we hide in our unconscious, so these are activated and projected. We magnify the talents and the beauty and wisdom of the love object. They are not real. True love is when we can slowly withdraw the projection and see the actual person who is there and then really love them.

I am taking a class where we are reading The Maiden Tsar. I am thinking of the chicken feet that Baba Yaga’s house stands on. We say that a person is chicken when they are afraid and won’t go forward, a coward. So Baba Yaga’s house on chicken feet: it is a house of fear, fear alive, terrifying. And what do we find in this most frightening place? We find that that our culture has most devalued: an old woman, not beautiful, not fertile. And she cares nothing for logic. In order to meet her challenge and not be destroyed, we must use our intuition, not our logic. No linear thinking, but a respect for magic and for humor.

I am thinking of the grandmother theory, that women have a dramatic menopause because they are the tribal memory. They have to survive the famine, raise the grandchildren, remember where there might be food, remember tricks and things forgotten. A useful man may remain fertile for the tribe, but a useful woman loses hers, because she is now a walking repository of knowledge. And western civilization has denigrated and ignored her: so she lives in the house with chicken feet.

My children are now adults but they do not have children yet. I am a practicing grandmother though. I am living alone for the first time in 28 years. I practice on other people’s children. A two year old loves my house: there is a stick dragon in the closet that roars if you press his throat. There are toys that he can’t take home. “That is mine. You may play with it while you are visiting.” I put a towel on the floor and get the espresso set out. I have never made espresso. He sits on the towel and pours water from the coffee pot until the cup overflows, the saucer overflows, the towel is soaked. He looks up at me, holding the coffee pot. “More?” I say. He hands it to me and I fill it with water again. His mother is surprised that he is wet from head to toe when she picks him up. By then the towel is cleared, the coffee set is drying, and he and I share a glance, our secrets safe. Until the next visit.

teens high risk for addiction

What teens are at high risk for addiction?

Would you say inner city, poor, abused, homeless?

This study : Adolescents from upper middle class communities: Substance misuse and addiction across early adulthood. which I first saw in WebMd, says that the privileged upper middle and rich children are at higher risk  for addiction than many of their peers.

350+ teens in New England were studied.

Drug and alcohol use was higher than across country norms, including inner city.

Rates of addiction diagnosis by age 26 were
19%-24% for girls
23%-40% for boys
These rates are two to three times the norms across the country.

Rates for addiction diagnosis by age 22 were
11%-16% for girls
19%-27% for boys
These rates are close to the same in girls, but twice as high in boys as peers across the country.

The teens were often popular high achievers who are A students. Parents tended to drink more in those cohorts than the norms.

Also: “Findings also showed the protective power of parents’ containment (anticipated stringency of repercussions for substance use) at age 18; this was inversely associated with frequency of drunkenness and marijuana and stimulant use in adulthood.” That is, parents who sent a clear message that consequences for illegal and underage substance use including alcohol and marijuana would be serious, provided protection for their teens.

A second article: Children of the Affluent: Challenges to Well-Being says this:

“Results also revealed the surprising unique significance of children’s eating dinner with at least one parent on most nights. Even after the other six parenting dimensions (including emotional closeness both to mothers and to fathers) were taken into account, this simple family routine was linked not only to children’s self-reported adjustment, but also to their performance at school. Striking, too, were the similarities of links involving family dining among families ostensibly easily able to arrange for shared leisure time and those who had to cope with the sundry exigencies of everyday life in poverty.”

Other children’s perception of parenting examined included:

felt closeness to mothers
felt closeness to fathers
parental values emphasizing integrity
regularity of eating dinner with parents
parental criticism
lack of after-school supervision
parental expectations

This aligns with my observations both in my town and with patients. I see parents “check out” sometimes when their children are in their teens. “I can’t control him/her. They are going to use drugs and alcohol.” I told my children that if they partied I would NOT be the parent who says, “Oh, he needs to play football anyhow.” I would be the parent who would be yelling “Throw the book at him/her. Bench them.” And I saw parents of teens going out to the parking lot to smoke marijuana at a church fundraiser when it was still illegal. And saying “Oh, our kids don’t know.” I thought, “Your kids are not that dumb.” They invited me along. I said, “No.” And I really lost respect for that group of parents. What example and message are they sending to their teens? Yeah, cool, do illegal things in the parking lot, nod, nod, wink, wink.

Meanwhile, my children keep me honest. “You are speeding, mom.”

“Yeah,” I say. “You are right. Sometimes I do.” And I slow down.

watch out

For the Daily Prompt: ghoulish.

Hey, wait, watch out! Who is that man in the back, with a knife?

I took this in 2012. This is a school trip at the end of 8th grade, taking everyone who can go to Mount St. Helen’s. The man with the knife is a fellow physician, who also has an 8th grader on the trip. Though he does internal medicine. The man on the right is the surgeon…..

We camped for three nights and explored Mount St. Helen’s. It rained and rained and rained. Some tents flooded. I wore my foul weather sailing pants. People ribbed me about them the first day, but by the second they looked cold and damp and envious….

Thanks to the teachers and all the parents and the students too!

 

At what age should we talk to our kids about drugs?

I am a rural family physician and my recommendation: before age 9. Before third grade.

WHY? Your eyes are popping out of your head in horror, but my recommendation comes from surveying my patients. For years.

The biggest drug killer is tobacco. However, it takes 30 years to kill people. It is very effective at taking twenty years off someone’s life, destroying their lungs, causing lung cancer, heart disease, mouth cancer, breast cancer, uterine cancer, stomach cancer, emphysema, heart disease….

I ask older smokers what age they started smoking. This is informal. This is not scientific. But most of my male older smokers say that they first tried cigarettes at age 9. I think parents need to be talking to their children about cigarettes by age 9.

And then start talking about alcohol and illegal drugs and the terrible dangers of pills.

“My innocent child would never….” Unfortunately my daughter said that as a senior in high school in our small town, there were 4-5 kids out of the 120+ that were not trying alcohol and marijuana. But there are kids trying far worse substances. We have methamphetamines here, and heroin, and pain pills sold on the street.

The perception that pills are safe is wrong too. Heroin is made from the opium poppy and it’s rather an expensive process, not to mention illegal and has to be imported from dangerous places. But teens take oxycodone and hydrocodone, bought on the street, to get high. And now drug sellers are making FAKE oxycodone and hydrocodone and selling that on the street. It contains fentanyl, which is much much stronger. If the dealer gets the mix wrong, the buyer can overdose and die.

Talk to your children young! NEVER take a pill from a friend, never take someone else’s medicine, never take a pill to party! YOU COULD DIE! And if you have a friend that is not making sense, that you can’t wake up, DON’T LEAVE THEM! Call an ambulance. Your friend may have used something illegal, and may not want you to call an ambulance. But if you think they are too sleepy….. don’t take a chance. People can get so sleepy, so sedated, that they stop breathing.

And parents, you are the ones that have to set a good example. Don’t drink alcohol every night. Don’t use pot every night. Take as few pills as possible. Pills aren’t necessarily safe because they are “supplements” or “natural” — hey, opium and heroin are plant based! Stop using tobacco and if you have a hard time doing it, tell your children you are struggling. It takes an average of eight tries to quit smoking. Get help.

Lastly, we talk about childhood innocence, but we let kids babysit at age 11. That is the Red Cross youngest age. My daughter took a babysitting course at age 11 and babysat. If we think they are responsible enough to do CPR, call 911 and do the heimlich maneuver, shouldn’t we also be talking to them about addictive substances by that age?

Talk to your children about addiction young… so that they can avoid it.

I am submitting this to the Daily Post Prompt: calm. I am not calm about this topic, but the photograph is calm…. and if we can help more children and families…..

Relax

For the Daily Prompt: relax.

Well, no, but they aren’t relaxed! This is my daughter and friends from her synchronized swim team in 2011. We have a home show in our small town each year and the parents and friends and grandparents and everyone is asked to come and see our girls perform their routines. They are waiting for the music to start….

But it relaxes me to see this photo and smile and remember. What a lot of work the parents put into supporting the team and driving to meets and making costumes and funding a new underwater speaker and then another one….

And still it makes me smile. And relax.