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“He Knew the Rules: No Drinking and No Parties…”

I left my ADHD son home alone and trusted him not to use drugs or alcohol. I should have known better than to trust an ADHD teenage boy.

In a couple of previous posts I’ve written about my son turning twenty-one last May and my concern about his subsequent experiments with drinking. My own history as an ADHD alcoholic fueled and heightened my concern. But after talking with my wife Margaret, I decided that my son Harry was not me and that overreacting to my fears with restrictions and lectures wouldn’t help him make the right decisions.

So, when Margaret flew to L.A. for the closing week of my one-man ADHD show in June we left Harry at home alone to take care of the dog and look after the house while we were out of town and his sister stayed with friends.

It was honor system – he knew the rules – no parties and no drugs (which he promised us he hadn’t even tried and had no interest in). We called to check in and he seemed fine. Then three days later we got we got a phone call from Harry. He had some things he wanted to tell us before we heard it from the neighbors.

Apparently as soon as Margaret got on the plane our house turned into Animal House. Only in real life it wasn’t funny. It was a nightmare of loud parties, drinking, pot-smoking, and Harry’s drunken friends arguing with furious neighbors at three a.m. — one of whom is a cop — as the dog gets out and runs down the street.

Now, Harry told us most of it, but not all, Margaret got the complete scoop when she got home. But the problem was that at the time Margaret wasn’t going to be home for a couple of more days. So the task facing me was to handle Harry over the phone until Margaret got home to deal with him and the neighbors face-to-face.

Okay – I’m freaking out – my head is exploding with the biggest “I told you so” in human history – or my human history, anyway. And this on top of full tilt fury slamming up against deep love and concern for my kid. And, hey, what about our poor dog – he had to have been scared silly by all of that insanity. And the other kids’ parents – legal issues. And damn it, he promised – but I knew, I did – I knew he wouldn’t be able to resist temptation – I was a twenty-one year-old kid once – but this isn’t about being a kid, this is about trust, ADHD, and alcohol, and the damage my boy can do to himself. This could have been even worse – what if someone had gotten seriously hurt? The more I think about it the more freaked and seriously pissed off I get. God, I’m going to tan that kid’s hide.

I pick up the phone, start punching in Harry’s number and then snap it closed. I have to do some breathing. A panic attack could undermine the righteously indignant avenging angel rant I’m planning to bring down on his head. But as I breathe, I remember the nightmares I poured into my parents’ lives when I was in my teens and twenties, and I realize that nothing I’ve been thinking about saying will help any of us. The truth is, I don’t really know what to say to Harry at all.

But I’m his dad – I have to figure out something – and fast.

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