A Tale of Underage Drinking…

Teenagers are nuclear meltdowns waiting to happen. Or maybe that is just the teenagers in my house.


Having said he was having a sleepover at his pals (we have never had any reason not to trust him), baby giant decided to go to alcohol-hell last night. He staged a mid-teen meltdown all of his own. Decided to surpass his (marginally older) mates drinking exploits. By downing a 70cl of vodka. 70cl just for him. And neat. No dilution of intoxication for my lad.

Now, I am no angel. I have been drunk. On numerous occasions (in the past). I have seen many others drunk. And in truth, some drunks are amusing. In fact, whilst drunk I too have thought I was touched by comedic genius. No doubt in a what an arsehole kind of a way. Other drunks are angry and ugly. But most of the drunks of my acquaintance have been capable of wording their slurs and activating their homing-pigeon abilities to get them home.

Not my lad. My lad passed out in an I need my stomach pumped kind of a way. Then he lay, unconscious by the roadside in the wet and sub-zero temperatures, without benefit of jacket. Whilst his pals pondered in their own drunken way the dilemma of what do we do with him. And whilst his Reynauds Disease went to work on cutting off the circulation to his hands and feet.

They couldn’t move him. He is 6ft 4″ and 13 stones. He was a dead weight. Eventually they went through his mobile and decided to call his 70 yr old Papa. Not his mother. And certainly not his father. And Papa, thinking how drunk can he really be? decided to go get him on his own.

So, Papa (ex-ambulance driver and paramedic) raced to the scene. Papa checked the lad for vital signs and then got the pals to bundle him into the car. Easier said than done with a dead weight.

When he arrived here, lad was upside down with his head on the rear floor, stuck between the front passenger seat and the rear seat. That is what happens when your bones have dissolved in the alcohol soup circulating around your body. You cannot sit up. You are jelly.

It took 30 minutes to remove him from the car. He was become a giant amoeba. Insentient. Eldest son and father eventually dragged him to the house. He was hauled to my bedroom (the nearest and on the ground floor of this 5 storey house). His clothes – sodden with urine (his) – were peeled and then cut from him. He suffered the ignominy of his mother washing him. He could not utter any intelligible sounds. His hands and feet were blue (Reynauds). We placed him in the recovery position.

We spent the night – his father and I – warming and nursing and watching him. Debating whether we should call an ambulance. Until 3am, when he decided to pee my bed. Destroying duvet and mattress. At that point he woke sufficiently to stand in a shower and be shouted at.

Nobody ever said parenting was easy. There are never any guarantees. And I have never ever smugly thought my child wouldn’t do that. Because we never know and cannot ever be that sure. We can imagine we have passed the right values. And that they have listened. But the siren call of hormones and peer group pressure and learning from your own mistakes – these are powerful pulls on our children. And, in the West of Scotland the alcohol culture is persistent – oppressive – omnipresent.

He is sitting across from me as I type. Having foregone the Motherwell game today (not much of a sacrifice – but still). Having handed his money over to pay for replacement bedding. Having accepted that he will be grounded until the New Year. Having handed me his Facebook password for deactivation and his mobile phone.

He has cried – with shame. Can give little explanation beyond – they were all drinking and he wasn’t working today.

As his father has wryly pointed out to him he will have little excuse for poor prelim results in December with all the study time he now has before him…

I feel sad. Oh, I know, no-one has died. He has learned a valuable lesson or five. But we have a way to go before trust and respect are earned back.