This entry is part two in a series of five by our youth correspondent Brett Ouimette.
As far back as I can remember, I have known what alcohol is. It has been all around me. One of my first memories is being on vacation with my parents, watching them sit there in the sun and sip a brightly colored drink in a tall fancy glass with fruit around the rim. I was completely fascinated by how delicious-looking and beautiful this drink was, and of coarse as a child, dreamed of the day I would be able to order one of these magnificent concoctions. Little did my parents know that just by ordering that drink they had begun advertising alcohol to their young child.
Like most children, I enjoyed playing “bartender” with my cousins at family gatherings. One of us would go behind a counter, pour a little apple cider or juice into a cup and we would all sip our drinks – slowly, like wine, or fast, like a shot. Sometimes one kid would even grab the bottle and drink from it and pretend to be drunk. The adults would see us and laugh at our little games and bring us little plastic wine cups to add to the realism and enjoyment of the game. At first, this seems like harmless childrens’ games — just playing a game of “bartender” didn’t mean we were going to grow up to be alcoholics, right?
The disturbing part of the game is that at such a young age we knew the basics of binge drinking and alcoholism. If at that age we took paper and leaves and rolled a fake cigarette or joint and then passed it around and pretend to smoke it, our parents would be appalled and immediately stop us from playing that game. They would then wonder why at such a young age we would know and want to pretend to smoke cigarettes and do drugs. As children we are sheltered from drugs and taught that cigarettes are dirty and unhealthy. Why are children not taught this about alcohol? Alcohol can be just as devastating to our future lives.
If everyone works together we might one day not look at alcohol as a fun way to enjoy our weekend — but look at it the same way we view cigarettes: as a health hazard.
Brett Ouimette is an 18-year-old college student originally from Simi Valley.