How Mommy and Daddy Teach Abstinence
by Jacquelyn Mitchard
1. Start drinking early in the afternoon on Christmas Eve. Come out of the bedroom in a Santa Claus bikini at midnight. After you pass out, forget Santa. Send the kids back into their rooms until noon and tell them Santa was hung over. Laugh. When the kids beg you to stop, tell them to grow up.
2. Pretend it never happened. None of it – the weeping-clown eyes, the shouts and fights, the makeout sessions on the coats in the bedroom with the lady from down the street – never happened. At all.
3. Go out on New Year’s Eve – for three days. There are plenty of Good Humor bars in the refrigerator. And Grandma and Grandpa didn’t leave for Florida yet? Or did they?
4. Nuzzle a waitress’ boobs, even after your friend, the owner of the place, asks you to stop, until your wife and kids get up and walk home. Six miles.
5. Tell your kid he better start on the team. When he does, show up for one game.
6. Talk about how much you drank on vacation the way other people talk about vacation.
7. When your son asks what you’re going to do tonight , say, “I’m going to drink. And you’re going to stay home.”
8. When your daughter, who’s 11, calls you at a dinner party from home to say that someone has broken into the apartment building, tell her to call the cops.
9. When your best friend suggests you slow down, on the night of your birthday, wait until he’s facing the other way and kick him through the TV.
10. Show up at eighth grade graduation, drunk. Show up at high school graduation drunk. Explain that you can’t make it to college graduation.
11. Shout out your requests for Trini Lopez songs so loudly that the bandleader refers to you as “Lawrence Welk and Mrs. Robinson.”
12. When one of the kids is seventeen and gets drunk for the first of three times in her life, throwing up until she’s weak and sobbing, tell her not to worry – everyone feels this way.
13. Be beautiful and charming and funny and complex and inquisitive when you’re sober. Be diminishing, surly, humiliating and cruel when you’re drunk.
14. Die young.
Jacquelyn Mitchard is the author of the number one New York Times bestselling novel, The Deep End of the Ocean, chosen as the first book for Oprah’s Book Club and named by USA Today the second most influential novel of the past 25 years. She has written four other bestsellers and is a contributing editor for Wondertime magazine as well as the author of four novels for young adults. Her new novel, No Time to Wave Goodbye, comes out this week.