Saturday, June 28, 2008

Drinking age

Grappa con Mertillo, blueberries in grappa, grappa is a distilled spirit made from the grape mush after the juice has been pressed to make wine. On its own, it is an acquired taste. It is more palatable flavored with something else, supposedly the most popular is blueberries. It tastes fine, I still have almost a whole bottle in the fridge. I brought this bottle back from Orvieto.
'What's the drinking age here?' (In Italy), asked one of the nieces during our trip to Italy in March this year. 'I don't know, do they even have one here?' I replied. She asked, 'can I have a beer?' 'A piccola one, I guess, you may' I said. We ordered lunch and a bierra piccola. It was a small beer and the 3 of us took swigs from it. We see very young people buying cigarettes and smoking. On the train the 14 year old niece was making friends with a cute Italian guy. They were sharing his music, each had an earphone from the same ipod. Sometime during the trip, he got out his smokes and proceeded to the outside of the coach to smoke but not before inviting the 14 year old to join him. She declined.
At work, we have the 'we card' program and it is strictly enforced. While we may admire the laxity of European values, it makes good sense to warn young people of the dangers of drinking and the health risks of smoking. In this area, Europe has a long way to go to catch up with us.
We also admire European values on sex and nudity. Sometimes it is not always bad to be prudes. I have a conservative view on sex and nudity, so on this trip, we talked about it and I gave them my money's worth. I paid for the trip and so it's my show. They listened and was curious and that was good. Teenagers should remain young and carefree and not be sexualized too young. I know they are being so, a lot of them act 24 going on 35, in their dressing and acting, but inside they are kids and I wish they appreciate that in themselves and stay and enjoy their teenage years and not be in a hurry to grow up.
Sooner, rather than later, adulthood will be forced upon them and the responsibilities of adulthood will weigh heavily on them- a job, their own bills, relationships, trust me, they'll wish they were teenagers again.
The world is all about profit and we, as parents, must always be mindful of it. They see and think '$' when it comes to teenagers. Everyone wants a piece of the 'mind of the teenager' to sell them something. They don't care how they do it. Years ago we were horrified about Brooke Shields' Calvin Klein jean ad. Now, we have teenage nudity on the pages of Abercrombie and Fitch catalogs which is tons worse. I'm still horrified. I feel guilty now when I watch explicit things on TV, I think, how can I indulge in these things and yet sanction my teenage nieces. There's always this double standard. The first thing to do is to rid of this double standard.
Guilt is not always a bad thing. I have always been motivated by fear and guilt. When I was 10, my aunt Monica put the fear of God and guilt in me. Today I can still hear aunt Monica's reprimands in my head and I'm still motivated by it. I've become very successful. This fear and guilt has pushed me to do the right thing all the time. I've not reacted by going against it. I've worked with it and it has worked for me and it is still working for me.

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