When I started my freshman year, I was not one of the people who had never experienced drinking alcohol before. Many freshmen leave home and find a new world at school flowing with alcoholic beverages.
For me, this was nothing new. Yes, like a lot of people I had experienced the house parties where a group of 16-year-olds shared a water bottle of booze stolen from their parents' liquor cabinets or chugged the infamous Four Lokos.
But I entered school with a different advantage, I was one of the few who had engaged in casual drinking with my parents before the age of 21.
The biggest thing I learned from drinking at home with my parents was how to drink in a social setting. This came from a couple of things. First, I learned how to drink without getting drunk.
Sometimes we would sit on our porch at sunset and have one drink or I would have a glass of wine with dinner. I definitely wasn't getting crunk on these occasions. This actually really helped me out in school.
For some reason college kids think they can't go out without blacking out, but that is so not me. If I ever wanted to go out on a Thursday night before an important day of Friday class, I knew how to pace myself and still drink without a) getting drunk at all, or b) just maintaining a small buzz that could still allow me to be a functioning human the next day.
So many times on a Thursday night my friends and I would make pacts to not let each other get that drunk so we could function the next day and so many times my friends were unable to complete the task (sorry ladies, I still love you all).
I would strongly recommend college students figure out how to socially drink because, believe it or not, you don't always have to black out to have a good time!
I also learned to appreciate alcohol. At school, people drink the cheapest vodka in its purest form. At home, I was taught how to enjoy a mixed drink or a fine glass of wine. Sometimes my parents even mix up some tasty shots for us.
Yes, I'm broke so I drink $12 handles of Rubinoff vodka and boxes of Franzia just like the rest of my peers, but I'm able to better appreciate a mixed drink made with vodka that doesn't taste like rubbing alcohol and wine that doesn't come in a bag.
As a college student, it isn't uncommon to hear the phrase "I died that night." Essentially, this is our generation's way of saying "holy shit I drank too much" and either a) threw up, b) made terrible decisions, c) passed out or d) any combination of the above.
Most people have had a bad night caused by excessive drinking. Sometimes it only takes one terrible experience for someone to never want to drink again. Regardless, the first time this happens to you it's a time you'll never forget.
I'm not gonna lie, I've had a night like this. The first time, however, that I realized I'm not immortal and I have limits was a summer night when I was 17. Before I had a bad experience, I didn't realize I had limits. The time I tested them, I knew where they were and I knew how to avoid reaching that awful point. Many college students go into college feeling immortal.
For me, my first bad night I was able to hide away in my house with my mother's tested remedies curing me. Unfortunately for a lot of students, there are serious repercussions when they drink too much at school and the mistake of not knowing their limits can lead to documentation and punishment by the school.
I'm not saying I haven't had my share of rough nights at school, but because of my first experience I was able to better handle the repercussions from my bad drinking decisions.
Lastly and maybe most importantly, drinking with my parents created a dialogue between us about alcohol and they're able to not only warn me about its dangers (sorry y'all, I know we all want to believe it can't kill us), but also instill in me anything else they've learned about various drinks over their years. It's such a relief being able to call my mom on a Saturday morning and 1) not have to lie to her about what I did last night, but 2) be able to ask her which hangover remedy I should use.
I'm sure there are parents out there who disagree with how my parents decided to allow alcohol to enter my life before it was legal. Because binge drinking is so prevalent at colleges and universities, I think that my parents prepared me better than I could have prepared myself.
I'm not here to tell anyone how to raise their children, however I do believe my parents' philosophy benefitted me. I mean, at least I think I turned out alright! So cheers to you, mom and dad!