Back in junior high, circa 1982, my 7th grade science class watched a (mandatory) harrowing film about the effects of drug and tobacco use. I'm talking close-ups of needle-infected arms and legs and gaping holes in throats. I was already a goody two-shoes, but that film — "Reefer Madness" for the Atari generation — gave me nightmares about going down the rabbit hole of illegal and carcinogenic substances. For reasons too complicated to get into here, I've never even been drunk.
However, I don't remember being as much of an anti-drug/tobacco/alcohol scold as my kids are turning out to be. Don't get me wrong; I'm glad the schools are strongly discouraging 6-year-olds from puffing and passing the Courvoisier. But my son and daughter become exceedingly purse-lipped when they see people smoking in public, or even when their own dad brings home a six pack. This is my 3-year-old's asssesment of nightclubs: "Grown-ups drink beer in there, and then they go to jail." She recently protested the presence of Corona Lights in the refrigerator, because "Daddy will get sick, and he will go to jail." When my son was a bit younger, he would point at smokers as if they had two heads (a habit that has since been nipped in the bud).
I have no idea where this hysterical attitude is coming from. We don't smoke, and our alcohol consumption is modest — so obviously, I don't want my kids to smoke or frequent keggers. But I also don't want them to be insufferable finger waggers who think a glass of wine is on par with, say, heroin. It's possible to make good choices without channeling Dana Carvey's church lady.
Except when it comes to decrying the presence of high fructose corn syrup in everything. I could rant about that for days.