There is an iconic picture – well, iconic to my family – of my Grandpa Meier sitting with my cousin on a bench in the back yard. My cousin was a few years old, if that, holding a beer bottle. The picture was blown up and hung for years and years, reminding us all that alcohol is woven into the fabric of our family, much like family dinners, football on Sundays and being rockstars at Trivial Pursuit:
- My Grandma Meier drank beer. She poured it in a plastic cup and enjoyed it during our Easter get-togethers and Christmas celebrations.
- Some of my earliest memories involve bringing a few beers – Hudy Delight, thank you very much – to my dad and our neighbor as they chatted at the chain-link fence in our back yard.
- I bought my college textbooks with money I made writing columns for the local paper about “college life,” and I think every one referenced “Nati Light.”
I could apologize for this, but I don’t want to. We’re all (usually) responsible adults who simply appreciate the never-failing, always reliable formula of sunshine + alcohol = happiness.
So, on a warm, sunny Carolina evening, it shouldn’t have surprised me that Monster was tugging on my arm, pointing to my Sam Adams, saying, “Wa-wa?” (He thinks any liquid is water.)
“No, buddy, this is Mommy’s water. Here, have your sippy cup.”
Well, a sippy cup he would not have. He begged and pleaded and whined.
I thought back to my adolescent days, asking my dad for a sip of Hudy, taking a swig and feeling like I wanted to die because it was so disgusting. (In my defense, Hudy Delight WAS terrible.)
With the knowledge that no child in history has ever enjoyed a sip of beer, I felt confident that if I just let Monster have a little bit, he would be turned off forever. I have witnessed his sensitive palate time and time again with other food experiments like asparagus and brussel sprouts. One bite and BAM – instant hatred and a lifetime of turning up his nose at those items and anything that looks remotely like it.
It was a wonderful revelation in parenting: Let the boy make a mistake, and he’s bound to never do it again. Let him fall off the deck; he’ll learn to watch where he walks. Let him cry in the crib; he’ll learn to put himself to sleep. Let him sip the beer and he won’t touch alcohol until he’s good and ready.
Feeling like the Mother of the Year I am, I said, “OK, friend, just a small sip.”
Eager, Monster leaned forward, open-mouthed and hands above his head. I placed the bottle on the edge of his mouoth and slowly tilted it until the Boston Lager lapped at his lips. He pulled away, eyes closed, face squished, tongue thrusting any remaining liquid out of his mouth.
I felt so proud of myself for a job well done as he shook his head back and forth, refusing Sam Adams and any blend the New Englander might put forth.
Then, the toddler’s face relaxed. He licked his lips several times. He turned his curious eyes up at me, pointed at the bottle, smiled gleefully and said:
What can I say? It’s in our blood.