I had two of my children over Monday night. I was two days sober and it was magical. They are getting used to my new living arrangements. It’s not ideal, but it works, and we manage.
After playing horse (which involves me on my hands and knees while my daughter rides on my back) she went to the fridge to grab a snack. The baby had settled in for a nap and I watched as she wandered over to the door and opened it. Now, I’m not thinking anything of it at this point, but I had bought two racks of soda to stick in the fridge. I like carbonated drinks, and I’m not much of a soda drinker these days, but it was necessary.
She stands there in front of the fridge, door open. She looks confused. She’s peering at the boxes of soda and she does not appear to know what to make of it.
“What’s the matter kiddo?”
She turns to me, face serious. She looks concerned. “Daddy,” she starts. “Where’s all your beer?”
She’s three mind you. She’s aware of my beverage of choice. She’s even taken sips when allowed. She liked to drink with daddy; me with my IPA, her with a juice or some water. I can see she’s really bothered by this. Oh, shit, what do I say? I hadn’t thought this far ahead.
“Uhhh, um.” I stammer. Not sure how to explain to a three year old that I have a problem. Honesty prevailed, with omissions of course.
“I’m going to stop drinking beer.”
“Why? You love beer.”
I’m amazed and ashamed that my 3 year old thinks this is normal. She’s almost never seen me without a drink in my hand. How did this happen? Oh, right… alcoholic.
“I do love beer kiddo. I love it too much. I drink a lot of it and it makes me sick. Remember when we had that talk about having too much of something and how it can make us feel yucky? I feel yucky.”
“Oh.” She thinks, smart kid that she is, and she says, “Maybe you shouldn’t drink as much?”
The three year old gets it. Why the fuck couldn’t I figure it out?
“I’m going to stop drinking kiddo. I don’t want to feel yucky. That’s why I got soda instead.”
“What happens if you drink too much soda?”
Well shit, her brain got ahead of mine again. I know who my next lawyer is going to be.
“Well, you can get sick if you have too much of anything, even soda.” I explain. “But getting sick from alcohol, which is in beer, is a very bad kind of sick.”
“Want a root beer?”
Her eyes light up. “Yes!”
Boom. Distraction. Works every time.
The kids go home in the morning. I’m trying to put myself together. I’m still ashamed. My daughter thinks that my drinking is normal. She’s never known anything different. It’s fucked up. I can’t even comprehend it. Daddys drink beer.
It’s time for a new normal. One that doesn’t involve my daughter looking into the fridge with a puzzled expression, wondering where all the goddamned alcohol went.