Phelps, Pot, Teens, and Teachers
Yesterday my 16 yr old is telling me that he just can’t believe that Michael Phelps got caught smoking pot. I sit quietly, because the last thing I want to do is tell my teenager that I think pot should at the very most be a minor infraction, and that we fill our jails with harmless people because of it (not to mention that most them seem to be of a darker hue than I, and I find that discriminatory, but that’s another post).
If you are a person that a teenager respects, you do not want to even imply that smoking pot, or getting drunk, or having sex, or anything you’d rather they not do, is something you might not have a problem with. If you do, they instantly take it to the bank. If it’s ok with you, then it must be Ok. I’ve seen that over and over. Which is why I tell parents to never divulge their pasts to their kids. Someone told me once that kids learn from their own mistakes, not yours. I have found that to be valuable advice.
Not that I have much of a past. Skinny dipping at 16 is about the wildest thing I ever did, and if my kids knew about it I’m sure they would be jumping in the pool naked almost immediately.
But I digress. I sit quietly while this 16 yr old of mine, who constantly tells me I’m too strict, too protective, too…everything, opines about Phelps. He says it makes him angry because now kids will just use that as excuse to smoke pot. They will say that if an Olympic Gold Medalist can smoke, it must be fine, and he wasn’t even arrested! He says it sets the worst example and just makes worse what is already a big problem among teenagers.
I had thought about joining the chorus of those saying that it was no big deal about Phelps, and he shouldn’t lose his sponsorships because of it, but my son made me realize how wrong I was to think that. Phelps may well do for pot what Bill Clinton did for bj’s. Give kids an excuse to increase risky behavior, because if a President or a Gold medal winner do it, then it must be ok.
Then this morning I read the following over at boing boing. It’s a story about a teacher whose students dosed him with a drug. Read the whole thing here. Is it no wonder with teachers such as this that students think drugs are fine?
Drugs are a common topic in my classroom. The students have questions and I have answers, and if I can prevent one less overdose or drunken driving death, it’s worth it. My students get f**ked up. We live in the wine country, and whenever you live in a booze-based economy, kids are going to grow up with issues. Acid, mushrooms, meth, coke, prescription drugs and a whole lot of weed are what the students are into. You would think it would change after 25 years, but it’s just the same as when I was in high school.
Max had left a screensaver depicting 12 tabs of Scooby-Doo windowpane acid on one of my classroom computers. I told him to do a research paper on Timothy Leary and quit being such an asshole. I think that’s why he dosed me.
By the time I reached Chase Street, I had a pretty good awareness of what was happening. Some of the treetops were dancing in the heat and wind, and my mouth was extremely dry. I went straight to Max, who was walking about 20 feet behind me.
“How you feeling, Mr. Moss?” he said with a smirk.
“Max, this is by far the dumbest thing you’ve ever done. How’d you do it?” I asked.
“Coffee” he admitted.
“How much?” I inquired.
“Small drop, one to two doses, should keep you going for a while.”
I ran through my options as best I could in my altered state, settling for what I thought was the most rational.
“Look, this is how it’s going to go. I’m going to ride this out, and you’re not going to tell anyone about it. Then you’re going to be expelled and brought up on criminal charges for dosing your teacher. Finally, you are not going to tell anyone what you did as it will seriously jeopardize your outcome. Clear?” I was getting lightheaded again, but I could tell that the point was made.
“Yes, Mr. Moss” he responded.
I had a big day that I didn’t want ruined by an LSD trip. Two years ago, a student had brought cookies made with marijuana butter to a teacher in the local middle school. After eating two, the student admitted to the prank. The student was expelled, and the teacher went to the hospital for tests and then home.
I had no time for that scenario; 10 years of following the Grateful Dead had trained me to control my experience.
I’m sure that little Grateful Dead experience was shared with your students, am I right? You must be so cool. Really.
Oh, by the way, the teacher didn’t suspend Max (shocker, right?) and he says Max went on to become a……pharmacist. Thanks for giving the world of healthcare that one sir!
You think this teacher is alone? Nah. Just take a look at my hometown.
More than a dozen Houston school district employees are getting a lesson in the zero-tolerance policies typically applied to students as they await court hearings on drug charges that could land them in jail.
While most of the teachers are charged with possessing pot in their cars at school, a few face time behind bars after police said they found unauthorized prescription drugs in their vehicles.
Some of the charges, particularly those involving prescription pills, are drawing criticism from lawyers, parents and teachers who say the Houston Independent School District and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office need a lesson in discretion.
Good grief. God help us all.