Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Mind Freshly Boggled


A couple of days ago my son introduced me to one of the more awkward moments in the life of a liberal parent.

"Hey mom," he announced cheerfully, "I've been approved for Medical Marijuana!"

Well, isn't that just swell? My inner-voice supplied dryly, but what came tripping off my tongue was, "Okay. I wasn't aware you were applying. You know this carries with it the same rules as anything else, no driving while under any kind of influence, and you do understand the legal implications?"

He assured me he did. We did the entire "as a responsible parent, I tell you..." and "as a polite kid, I listen attentively and you'll just have to hope that's sticking..." verbal exchange. Every parent of a nearly full-grown adult out there knows all the steps, backwards and forwards to this particular Parental Polka.

Serves you right for voting for it, doesn't it? Ye olde helpful, inner-voice of self-questioning handily offered up, and I replied with a thundering eyeroll to myself. A tricky move to pull off, but I feel as if it was warranted.

Five years ago, at the age of fourteen my son crashed into a tree while skiing. A helmet saved him from any truly tragic injuries, but he did manage to rather thoroughly break his collar bone and the bone in the socket of his shoulder. It now requires surgery, but the Insurance Industry feels the need to try and pull out their extra-special favorite term "preexisting" to try and avoid this. We are engaged in a wrangling session that will doubtless end with said insurance ponying up the dough with as little grace as humanly possible. In the meantime my son's shoulder is in bad enough shape that a doctor approved him for weed. I feel certain my son finds reason to not exactly bemoan his fate, if you catch my drift.

In my annual phone call to my mother, before she departs the shores of the U.S. for her half year in Scotland, I informed her of this and discovered that there may be something to genetics. Her response was in line with my own, "Better that than prescription pills, I suppose." Seeing as my son can currently dislocate his shoulder with an overly enthusiastic sneeze, I'm sure it does pain him enough to warrant something. In the contest between prescribed narcotic pain-killers, sometimes referred to as "Hillbilly Heroin" or reefer, I'm going with the Chronic as the lesser of two evils.

I'm hard to shock. My mother is also somewhat difficult to shock. It seems she is more difficult to shock than I am, though. Must be something to do with age.

Prior to me telling my mom that my son would be a legally sanctioned stoner, my son ended up chatting with my mom for a length of time, and I went about my daily chores. Around the corner of the laundry room, his astonished face appeared for a moment, and then withdrew. I thought little of it. He might just have been astounded by the sheer number of words she can produce, after all. I'm a less wordy version of my mother. Contemplate that, and take a couple Advil, no doubt.

When I did fill her in, she had a bomb of her own to drop. Admittedly, it was not a bomb to her, but mine was a mind freshly boggled, and my jaw was still sagging a bit when I got off the phone.

My son went first, "Mom, did you know Grandma met the Beatles?"

Well yes, actually I did know that story. She met them before she ever came to the U.S. while she still lived in the U.K. A friend's father owned or was part-owner in a venue they played, and my mother and a friend were taken backstage to meet the Fab Four. I think one of them flirted a bit with her, causing the friend she was with to turn a decorous shade of green. My mom was really quite the knockout in her youth.

"That's nothing," I gaped, "My mother, your grandmother, watches The Daily Show!!"

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. The one that recently featured a story on Medical Marijuana in Denver. The one she brought up as soon as I told her that my son had a license to toke. If I'd been hoping, even on some remaining adolescent level to shock her with my liberality, I was the one who ended up flabbergasted.

The same show that recently had a choral arrangement, complete with robes, of Jon Stewart singing the Go F&^K Yourselves hymn to Fox News for almost ten full minutes.

Even my inner-voice of helpful suggestions and self-mocking was stunned into silence.

When I told my son this, he adopted his own fish-faced expression, featuring the Goldfish Mouth of O.

"I know, right?!?" Flint also watches The Daily Show. "And Colbert!"

"Get outta here!?!"

"I never would have guessed it." I was glad that he was also halfway between impressed and astonished. At least I had company on that.

He left to meet some friends, and I continued about my day in something of a haze.

My mother has always seemed vaguely prim to me. We don't have the sort of relationship where we trade jokes, or even talk that easily. I've always put it down to our differences.

Maybe it's actually your similarities, whispers that inner-voice of self-examination. I willfully ignore it, and get back to my day.

33 comments:

Tabor said...

Wow. Lots of information. I think you are handling this strange turn of events rather well. I guess my greatest fear would be the 14-year-olds deep need to succumb to peer pressure and share the prescription which I am guessing is the very first discussion you had.

Land of shimp said...

My son is almost twenty now, Tabor :-) But yes, we did have that discussion, about how it was for his use, and not to be passed around like a party favor.

Hope you're doing well, by the way. Always fun to see your name.

The Bug said...

I have a family member - a pharmacist - who got hooked on oxycontin, was caught taking from his own pharmacy & had to be in a treatment program to avoid jail. Amazingly, he's clean now & a pharmacist again (I think that says something about the industry that they are VERY willing to give you a second - or third - chance. It says - we're desperate for pharmacists!). In any case, marijuana would have been a MUCH better choice for him, especially because he was trying to avoid emotional pain, not physical pain.

That is SUPER cool about your mom watching The Daily Show!

Jennifer D said...

I think it is easier for Grammas to deal than Moms, plain and simple.They are a bit further from the issue and can see clearer.
Gram's experience helps too, right?
The only thing I can say about this difficult topic is... it IS better than prescription pain killers. Too many people are on anti-depressants and pain killers, The death toll keeps climbing. I am not saying they aren't needed sometimes but it is too easy to mask the problem with pills instead of solving it.The amount of teens who are legally being prescribed pills is shocking.

I hope he can get his surgery soon.

P.S. You are a hip Mom and you have a hip Mom. I adore Stewart and Colbert, did you see Stewarts impression of Glen Beck? I am still laughing at that one.

Happy Mother's Day... you handled that bump in the road very well.
;-)Thanks for sharing.

Amy said...

I think that's hilarious Alane! And I agree that grandparents are not on the front lines so they tend to be more open and tolerant. Which is not to say you aren't open and tolerant, because obviously you are. I admire the relationship you created with your son - he's very fortunate! Hopefully, the surgery will be scheduled sooner rather than later and he won't have a need or a desire for the "chronic" pain remedy.

Glennis said...

Parental polka..... I like that phrase. Great amusing post.

jadedj said...

I am going to file this post for future reference for my now thirteen year old. Having raised her in our liberal ways, I know the day is coming when I may have to eat my words. You are a wise mom.

Land of shimp said...

The Bug, it was both cool, and startling to discover that my mother watches something everyone in this house does. She does have a well-developed sense of humor, so I suppose it shouldn't have surprised me as much as it did.

She had a fair amount to say about Stewart and his humor. I must say, I readily agreed with her. I always think of my mother and I as being two paths that only over diverge, never converge. Turns out I was wrong.

You know, I really wish the story of your relative was very unusual, but it simply is not. The problem becomes that people legitimately do have pain issues, and opiates seem to be fraught with very real peril. I don't believe that pot is a gateway drug (in part because I smoked enough of it myself back in the day), but I know that if someone has a potential problem with wanting to filter, buffer their lives in such a manner, it can present a problem.

So can almost anything though. I've seen how destructive a variety substances can be and there's risk in almost anything. I just personally feel that the risk of weed is no greater than the risk of hammering down tequila. Narcotic pain killers strike me as much riskier, and because they are frequently mixed with Tylenol, they are hell on the liver.

Jennifer, I truly agree. I know seven different people who ended up with very serious addiction issues after taking pain killer they were prescribed for actual issues that required some form of relief to have any quality of life.

I think one of the luckiest things in my life has been that I have a mild-allergy to most narcotic pain killers, I itch and become so nauseated, really it's a toss up as to whether it is preferable to being in pain.

Still, he can't just live with that pain. Advil wasn't cutting it, he was losing sleep, looking unwell. Something did need to be done.

I voted for medical marijuana in part because I do believe it is the far less perilous option when it comes to pain relief.

I just didn't realize at the time that I'd have to walk my talk with my own son! Hehe. Ah parenting, it comes with such a host of challenges, so many of which we cannot foresee.

Amy, I think I am very fortunate. You know, it was partially that we would watch science fiction together. At the age where most sons quit talking to their parents (somewhere around fourteen) ...we ended up talking about the shows that we watched, which would lead to other discussion.

It has its pitfalls. But it also has its benefits.

I also think that it is funny, by the way. I think it's also fairly wonderful that I can still be finding out new things about my mother. People really can surprise you :-)

Thank you, Glennis. If you've got kids, it is just one of those routine type of discussions you have. Do you know that feeling? Like you've conducted almost exactly the same conversation but in a sort "insert topic of discussion here ________, frame it in such-and-such manner" ...and it all boils down to the same sort of thing. If my son were to name it? He'd probably call it the "Be Responsible Rumba" that he's been seeing me do for the entirety of his life.

Land of shimp said...

jadedj, my sympathies are with you, good man.

You know what is nice? Having been raised around the liberal views did benefit him in many ways...and certainly benefited me when it came to him.

Yup, you know the day he told, "Oh mom, you'll be proud of me, I'm making sure to be responsible." and causally waved a condom in my direction before tucking it into his wallet was challenging as could be. I discovered somewhere inside of me exists a raging Puritan, complete with funny hat.

But the exterior liberal won the day and said the right things, "Well, if you're going to be active, being protected is important."

And then I had a quiet, strong drink.

Good luck with your daughter, I am sure she will turn out to be a great credit to the human race :-)

Kerry said...

I sure wish my mother watched the Daily Show, but alas it's Fox News for her.
I hope your son finds relief with whatever treatments he decides to use; I bet he's in pain from that injury.

Hilary said...

I'm sorry that your son is in pain and truly hope that it helps ease it for him.

And if you find her appreciation for Stewart and Colbert surprising, wait till you find out that your mom has her own stash...

;)

slommler said...

I don't know what would cause my mouth to drop open more...my son or my mother is I heard all this news. HA! Sorry your son is in pain though. That sucks!!
Your mom sounds like the coolest mom ever. Lucky you!
My mom is pretty cool too and is always trying to stay current as well. Go Mom's!!
Hugs
SueAnn

Suldog said...

So glad to see another post from you. I can now repay your very many kind comments with one of my own.

Problem is, I don't think I really have anything to add. I saw the beginning of the post, and immediately thought, "Time to put on my ex-drug-dealing-Libertarian-candidate-for-political-office- ingester-of-everything-under-the-sun-and-none-too-worse-for-wear hat and reassure her!" However, you've reassured yourself to the point where anything I have to say would be superfluous and gratuitous (much like this sentence!)

Glad to see you back again, anyway :-)

DUTA said...

I'm not too happy with that side of liberalism which makes use of marijuana a trivial matter, but I'm fully aware of the fact that there are cases where pain is best alleviated only with the weed.
Anyway, I wish your son a life free of any pain!

Your Mom is quite a character, and it seems the daughter has not fallen too far from the tree.

TechnoBabe said...

Sounds like a bad accident that hasn't been resolved yet. Pain is something none of us can ignore. I think you and your mom are pretty open minded and with it women. Your son already knows that. Happy Mothers Day weekend.

Katy said...

I'm sure my mom would get along with Kerry's mom quite well. She's a HUGE Fox News fan.

My nephew is 19 and the black sheep of the family at the moment (we all take our turn). He confinded in me the other day ... "I told Grandma about how my band played at a club and I had a few drinks and she didn't even care. You're mom is more laid back than you think." I was sad to inform him that when she doesn't say anything because she is convinced he's an alcholoic and is going to end up in jail one day.

I would be surpirsed if I ever found out something about my mom I didn't already know. She tells everyone everything always.

Dave said...

Ha ha! An interesting story with humour Alane. Your law about medical marijuana being permitted is new to me as we don't allow that here.... - yet. - Dave

Pauline said...

the old pre-existing medical condition ploy. and people think we don't need health reform? glad your son will be getting some relief, though my first thoughts were similar to Tabor's. peer pressure can be a mighty force.

gotta love your mother! she reminds me of my own - a white-gloved intellectual teachery sort who was one of the most open-minded people I've known

Land of shimp said...

Hi Kerry :-) It is an injury that was never going to age well, unfortunately for him. It was a fairly serious collision and mostly I've always been grateful for that helmet, and that his injuries were rather minor, all things considered. Still, it's a hard joint to have screwed up when he's just heading into adulthood.

Eventually he will have surgery come hell, high water, damnation or flood :-)

Funnily enough, my mother is a lifelong Republican, but she's not a Conservative, if that makes any sense. Or rather, she's a fiscal conservative, and a social liberal. Social liberals tend to not like Fox News.

Hilary, hehe, you know it wouldn't surprise me at all if my mother had a stash. She's never been prone to talking about anything she considers improper (sex, drugs, rock and roll) but I'd die of shock if my mother hadn't smoked her share of pot.

I know my mom's a social liberal, what surprised me is that she watches a show where swearing is a form of humor.

slommer, you know, I would have to say that my mom is actually kind of a cool person. I actually wouldn't call her a "cool mom" but ...yeah, she's bright, funny and interesting :-)

Suldog, you and my husband have a great deal in common. He went to Ohio State, which is generally enough for to catch the gist of how much he partied.

You know, this is actually a tough thing to hang out there on the internet, but even for recreational use, I would much prefer my son smoked weed than drank. It's not like I encourage either, but realistically speaking, if most of us look back at our youth...was there anything on this green and verdant earth your parents could have said to have you not ingest almost everything you could find? Yeah, mine either.

He's a type 1 diabetic, he absolutely should not drink. Does that mean he won't? As much as I'd love to believe that was the case, I'd only be telling myself that to get a better night's sleep, not because I believe it.

So I've tried to maintain an atmosphere where he can tell me what he is actually doing. In the "don't know if this is lucky or not" category, he has an Uncle and Aunt on his dad's side who both had huge Crack problems. So from the time he was little he has seen how destructive a force drugs can be. They are both all right now, but ultimately, you can only hope that every long discussion you've ever had about the perils of X, Y, Z had some impact.

Kind of the same thing with knowing my son is sexually active. I'd rather know and be able to say things about condoms, safe sex, getting tested, percentages on birth control effectiveness...treating a partner with respect...oh, and not thinking that the number of people someone has slept with says anything about a person's soul, by the way, in particular a woman's.

Ignorane isn't bliss, you know? Ignorance would just be denial of factors I know are at play in the world.

So I stick to the stuff that has a lot of importance like, "To this day, if you are ever in anyway altered, and need a ride? Call me. If if I can't come and get you, I'll send a cab to wherever you are, on whatever corner of the Earth. Better that than driving, EVER."

God, I don't even know if I'm doing any of this well, Jim, but I certainly hope I'm being as realistic as possible.

Thank you, Duta :-) I don't think anything that alters a perception of reality is a casual thing, and like anything (including alcohol) it can be overused. But I don't consider pot to be a "Gateway" drug, either. I think people have a predisposition towards addiction for a variety of reasons, genetic, psychological, what have you. I think that predisposition is what makes pot perilous for some.

But I'm a big supporter of medical marijuana and for legalization overall.

*pause in replying while I go to let the dog out*

Land of shimp said...

However, my arguments for legalization aren't about believing pot is harmless. I just don't believe it to be any more destructive in a life than alcohol can be. The qualifier is that I think alcohol is often a very destructive thing for certain individuals.

Technobabe, Happy Mother's Day to you too :-) One of the more interesting things in life is getting to know your parents as something other than parents. My mom used to listen to Tennessee Williams and the Irish Rovers as musical choices and that's almost wholly indicative of her musical tastes. The Ray Coniff singers too. She has a very old-fashioned bent to her personality.

It was both surprising, and refreshing to discover that there is still more to that story.

Katy, it's so nice that have a close relationship with your mom :-) I hope everything works out for your nephew, by the way. That has to be heart breaking.

A friend of mine did comment that the manner in which my son told me was the surprising thing. Just this sort of chatty, everyday sort of thing. I guess in the long-run I haven't given him much against which to rebel.

Dave, hehe, I'm so glad that you got that I think this is mostly funny! I can take my son's announcement with a slight wince, but with general aplomb. The discovery that my mother has a hip sense of humor? Now THAT is what floored me :-)

I hope it is someday approved in NZ, Dave. There are certain things that pot is really one of the better things to employ.

We desperately need insurance reform, Pauline and I'd have said that regardless of my son's situation. The term "preexisting" should be taken into a dark alley and done to death.

I think I must have phrased the initial post in such a manner that confused people as to my son's age. My son is nineteen, nearly twenty. All of his friends, if they are of a mind to do whatever they wish to do, have many options available to them. He's a bit past the age of being susceptible to peer pressure.

That's really the stuff of middle school, and high school. I really don't know how to put this other than bluntly, but his friends who do smoke, don't need him for a connection, that's for sure.

Shrinky said...

Blimey! I sure hope this insurance company coughs up the necessary dough for this op he needs, it's insane he is forced to live in pain indefinitely, like this. I guess a bit of prescribed dope won't kill him, I hear it does help ease a lot of medical conditions.

And for the record, NOONE deserves to turn into their mother (she said with a slightly hysterical note to her voice)..

Jo said...

You mother sounds wonderful. She sounds a bit like my mother, whom I miss so much...! A very cool lady, indeed.

Tell your son to come up to Canada. We'll fix his shoulder asap -- for nothing -- done by some of the best orthopedic surgeons in the world. And he won't have to take illegal (legal?) drugs instead.

I love Americans, but I don't understand a country that would allow a young man to continue on being in pain -- for years -- for a condition that is treatable, and instead of corrective surgery, they give him drugs. I certainly hope you folks are able to fix that situation as fast as you can.

Land of shimp said...

Hehe, Shrinky! I feel your pain on that. Even if you have a rather neat person for a mother, no one wants to become a version of their mom. We all want to believe we are extremely individual. Of course, in your case, I sense that is the truth of the matter.

I anticipate that within the year we should be able to bully the insurance into signing off on the surgery. The Health Care reform bill that passed here will make it impossible for our insurance to use the preexisting copout for too much longer. The amazing thing is that knowing that, they are still trying to stall (presumably with the hope that he'll stop being a full-time student, and they can drop him). Insurance wrangling, most of us are rather skilled at it.

Jo, medical marijuana is legal in the state of Colorado. He had to submit an application, and go through a physical examination to be approved. Actually there are some reasons to believe that California may actually be on the verge of simply legalizing marijuana period (to sum up: the state is flat broke, and eyeing up the revenue potential), but six states here (including Colorado) have legalized medical marijuana.

Weirdly, I could qualify also, due to some issues with arthritis resulting from the bones I managed to smash rather thoroughly, ages ago. I simply choose not to pursue that. My discomfort is manageable with Advil and I'm sticking with it.

You and I have had long exchanges about the state of our health care industry here, Jo. I believe it is an obscenity that we have to fight so hard to -- and this is the part that is truly rich with irony -- be allowed access to the benefits of something we personally pay for already. That's the part that is just a case of "You might as well laugh, because the only other alternative is crying."

We pay a not insubstantial sum to have the privilege of having this battle in the first place.

I love my country, there are very good things about it.

There are some things that need to be fixed, though. Hopefully we're on our way to getting it fixed!

Clowncar said...

just put myself in your shoes, and not sure how I'd react to that situation. but, in the abstract, it's certainly better than prescription drugs.

I'm (slightly) more conservative than my parents, actually. lots more conservative than my wife. though in truth we are all pretty liberal.

Mia said...

He has to take a drug that most Americans equate with communist hippies because some Americans don't want proper health cover because that would make everybody communist? Ironic, man.

Cricket said...

Just checking in and catching up. Oy. My earlier estimates of my free time were overly optimistic.

Ain't parenthood a good swift kick in the a--? I often wonder what I can possibly tell my children not to do with a straight face. Yikes. At least I still have some time to think that over. Hmmmm, truth or hypocrisy?

I guess part of the deal is you have to raise them as best you can and then (gulp) trust 'em.

Already my hair would be gray, at least until I tore it out. Fortunately, I don't have any. I can't wait for the teen years. Still, in another year, you and your son can hit the pubs and talk things over.

Actually, that sounds kind of nice.

ArtSparker said...

Came over from Oort cloud because I liked your comment so much, It can be discomfiting when family members refuse to stay in the roles we have assigned to them in our minds.

Nancy said...

My daughter told me that same thing the other day. That she could easily get a medical marijuana card for her asthma. Who knew pot was good for asthma? It must be great for menopause...

laughingwolf said...

lol... at least your haze wasn't of the purple kind ;)

Frances Tyrrell said...

Sounds like you handled that one (MM)with aplomb. My teenager's response to this story is that the medical grade stuff would be better quality than that which is available at school. Sigh. My position is that NO ONE smokes ANYTHING in or about this house, not even kippered herrings.

I really hope they can fix your son's arm/shoulder soon. Sounds like he's had a hard time with it.

Land of shimp said...

Clowncar, it was an odd moment. I really wanted to be able to do the parent-thing. To espouse views I'm not even sure I hold because a part of me thinks that leads to a safer life.

It's sort of like those moments when I desperately wish to be a convenient sexist. Like when our fridge broke down, I had a fleeting wish to just morph into the girliest girl, who had ever girled, call my husband and in the manner of Princess, bid him deal with it. Oh it would have been so convenient to play the delicate flower!

But I didn't. Just as here I wished I had a long history of rigid thinking that would allow me to deal with the situation in a manner outlined by someone else!

"I don't freaking know what to do, certainly there must be something in that bloody handbook of soundbites to free me!"

However, I don't believe that works in general, and I know it doesn't work with my son. If I want to remain in his life, rather than some sanitized version that contains a lot of concealment, I've got to roll with what his nearly-adult life brings him.

Bleh. You know? It would be easier if he was permanently twelve and what I said was gospel. Surprisingly, this is not how it works out :-)

Very cute, Mia, although Americans fear "Socialism" (in a perversion of the actual meaning of the word)...but it still works and is still funny :-)

Hey Cricket, I'm trying to think if I've ever told you this story. I don't think I have, although we've discussed the pitfalls of parenting before.

Long ago a friend I'll call Deborah, had been having one.of.those.days. where she just wanted the sun to go down, everyone to go to bed, and for the next day to begin. Before that could happen, she had to make dinner, and her six-year-old wanted to help. Frustrated, tired, out of patience Deborah told her "No. Go play." and that caused a positive gale-force tantrum in which her daughter eventually screeched, "Why did you have me?"

Not expecting such a question from one so small, Deborah was shocked into answering honestly, "Well crazily enough I thought it would be fun!"

Her daughter is now twenty-two and for some reason, every Thanksgiving, this daughter tells that story, complete with mom's reply, and a dramatic re-enactment of her inflection. It really stuck with her kid. All the "Chew with your mouth closed." "Sort your laundry." "We do our chores first, and then play." lessons she tried to teach, and her daughter's favorite memory is of mommy being fed. up.

Parenting is, indeed, a kick in the ass or thereabouts ;-) At times.

Land of shimp said...

Well put, ArtSparkeler! Also, have you ever noticed that we expect people like our siblings to be permanently attached to their developmental stage when we last knew them? So that a forty-six-year-old brother is expected to act as he did at 21. Or how we often find ourselves regressing to that expected self?

Family dynamics. We are both more, and less ourselves when with our families.

I avoid mine ;-)

Hehe, Nancy, I think the funniest thing there is that I could not help but feel a surge of hope at your last! "ooooh...maybe I'll find out? Nah."

I'm not quite there yet, but heaven knows menopause gets such dreadful press, I half expect cryogenic stasis to be employed to escape it, in the future. But pot brownies sound like they'd cure a world of ills ;-)

Ha, laughing wolf...by the way, the conversation was also a result of having chosen, in the past, to actually own up to what I did in college. I'm not sure if that is advisable, or not. So...a past...purplish-haze was something of a given.

I think that's a perfectly acceptable attitude, Frances. I don't think there are universally right, or wrong answers. There are right answer for the individual in these sorts of matters.

But if I'm being completely honest, I was already aware that my son indulged.

It's one of those individual things. Our society has it that drinking is acceptable (and legal) but for my son, drinking really needs to not be on the table.

Actually, being type 1, he really is better off not using prescription painkillers, either.

ds said...

Wow. You certainly wound up being both partners in the Parental Polka. If marijuana keeps your son from dislocating his shoulder with a sneeze (or feeling its excruciating pain), he should have it, insurance company be damned! (we have some experience with "preexisting conditions"--too annoying)
Your mother is an original. Good thing, as you are, too. Best of luck.