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Drinking dilemma for cautious parents

Saturday February 16 2019

Drinking doesn’t make you a terrible parent … unless you become a lout when drunk. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP

Drinking doesn’t make you a terrible parent … unless you become a lout when drunk. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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I have a friend, who has a six-year old son. Single mum. She grew up in one of those households that was full of prayers.

One day, her father left without a word. She was in lower primary school when he simply left and never came back.

When she narrates it, she finds it very odd. I told her it wasn’t odd at all, that I know a relative who told the wife, “let me go to the chemist and pick some painkillers,” and left in sandals, and that was it, he never came back.

He left everything behind, apart from his phone and car. Anyway, after the father’s unceremonious departure, my friend’s mum flung herself at Jesus and so growing up they would read the Bible and sing gospel songs. And they always watched Family TV.

The spirit filled her head at an early stage in life and eventually, she and her sister grew up to be solid, driven, very confident and well-adjusted women.

Miraculously, she didn’t turn out hating men. On the contrary, she’s one of those people who love deeply.


But her threshold for male buffoonery is alarmingly low.

Anyway, now as an adult, she also finds herself divorced at the age of 30, and raising a boy.

She didn’t throw herself at Jesus when her marriage ended like her mum did, but at the same time, matters religion are never too far away.

She listens to gospel music in her car. She goes to one of those once-a-month praise and worship sessions which end at midnight.

She believes in good and bad, and she doesn’t ever see or allow the grey area. She has principles, and they never move. Ever. For anybody.

Anyway, this one afternoon I passed by her house to say hello. (I’m that guy who will conveniently say, ‘I’m in your neighbourhood’ at lunch hour.)


She’s a phenomenal cook, but she only cooks occasionally when she is in the mood, which could be once a month or thrice a month. She’s one of those natural cooks who don’t use a recipe book.

 Anyway, I arrive at her house and she’s at the dining table on her laptop, a mug next to her.

She says, “I was just getting some work done. Would you like something to eat?” I pretend and say, “Oh no, I’m not really hungry.” She then says, “Oh because I have some leftover chapos and coconut beans.” I say, “Well, maybe I can have a bite. Life is short.” [I use that phrase for just about anything.]

So while I eat as we chat, she goes back into the kitchen and I see her pouring Amarula in the mug. When she comes back I say, “why don’t you drink your alcohol from a proper glass. Drinking is an experience, you know.” She says, “I can’t, I don’t want my son to see me drinking.” I say, “Hmm, do you mind warming me another chapo?”

My mum never touched alcohol. Neither has my dad. I grew up thinking that the devil lives in beer bottles.

And now what that means is that when we go to the village — the youngest of us is 32 years old, the eldest is around mid-40s, or thereabout, she can decide what age she wants to be in national newspaper. Ha-ha.

Anyway, when we go to the village to see the old man, we carry bottles of alcohol, but we never have the nerve to drink them in the open.

So we wait until my father has left the boma or gone to bed and then we pour our drinks in glasses, and hide the bottles out of sight. Imagine that, adults with about a total of nine children among the five of them drinking booze like teenagers.

It’s partly out of respect and partly out of fear of offending my dad.


I have two children and sometimes my daughter, who is 11 years old, asks me, “papa, where are you going from here?” I say, “I will go to the bar to meet my friends.”

One time she asks, “do you drink wine? I said no, that’s for mum. I drink whisky. I like my whisky.”

She has seen the bottles on my shelf. I’m not going to hide my drinking from her because then it says that I’m doing a thing I’m not proud of.

I told my friend to drink her Amarula from a proper glass, for chrissake! Let the boy know that drinking is not a sin, that it’s enjoyable, but that it’s something you do when you have had a long day, or a beautiful day, and you need to celebrate.

Don’t drag the name of Jesus in it, by justifying it by saying that Jesus turned water into wine.

There are so many things we do now that Jesus didn’t do, and vice versa. Otherwise we’d find prostitutes to wash our feet.

I think if you drink, you should show the children that when the time comes, alcohol will be there should they choose to partake of it, and they will not abuse it.

Having a drink doesn’t make you a terrible parent. Unless you become a lout when drunk and you want to pee on the potted plant in the living room.