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The teen drinking epidemic can be ironic

February 7, 2010 10:00 am Published by 7 Comments

The poem referenced in Shawn McMaster’s blog post Poetry for a Cause on the Straight Up blog, goes, in part:

I went to a party,
And remembered what you said.
You told me not to drink, Mom,
so I had a Sprite instead …

I got into my car,
Sure to get home in one piece.
I never knew what was coming, Mom,
something I expected least.

Now I’m lying on the pavement,
And I hear the policeman say,
the kid that caused this wreck was drunk,
Mom, his voice seems far away.

This girl’s powerful poem is saddening in itself, but ultimately, a reality check.

[read the poem in its entirely here]

The verse states the girl’s intent of the party  — to attend and enjoy her time, yet listen to her mom’s advice not to drink. She states her joy that her mom talked to her and attacked the problem with a positive light, and that she feels “proud of [her]self” at making a “healthy choice”. When the girl acknowledges that her mother’s advice was right, this poem unveils its first meaning, that parents must talk to their kids about drinking, but only in a way that will allow them to listen.

It is not uncommon for parents to badger their teens with what seems to be irrational statements, such as “You need to clean your room”, “You went over your texting limit”,  and “Let’s talk about the birds and the bees…” So often, parents don’t communicate in a positive manner — which can fuel the rebellion in teenagers who are on the stage of finding themselves. If a parent chooses to attack the situation in a positive manner, much like the mother of the girl in the poem, the chances of a better turnout are drastically increased.

Entering into the fifth stanza of the poem, an ironic factor comes into the downwardly spiraling situation. As the girl gets into her car to drive home, she gets into an collision and is killed — a result of another teen driver, one whom had either not heard or had ignored the words of advice to not drink and drive.

Alanis Morissette’s song “Ironic” immediately came to mind upon reading the second part of the girl’s poem. In referring to a certain irony, Alanis sings:

Mr. Play It Safe was afraid to fly
He packed his suitcase and kissed his kids good-bye
He waited his whole darn life to take that flight
And as the plane crashed down he thought
‘Well isn’t this nice…’

So often, life happens where the unexpected occurs. The young girl who believed she was safe was killed, not because she chose to drink, but because she chose to attend the party.

Because so many parents have the “it could never happen to me or my family” attitude, most parents don’t take the time to talk to their kids about certain topics. When a parent ignores their responsibility to inform their child of the dangers of underage drinking and impaired driving, the risk of putting themselves or others in danger is greatly heightened.  This is when the girl from the poem becomes real — a living person, sister, cousin, or best friend.

The girl ends her poem taking her last living breathe to say goodbye, a goodbye which no one is able to hear.

I wish that you could hold me Mom, as I lie here and die.
I wish that I could say I love you, Mom
So I love you and good-bye.

Brandon F. is 17 and a Foothill Technology High School senior in Ventura and is an actor/model for Allensworth Entertainment.