My daughter Radler was probably 5 years old, coloring in front of the fireplace. Nonchalantly, she asked “Mama, that plant you grow. Does it save people’s lives?”
I was totally taken aback. We had grown adult-use cannabis in the 502 market for about a year, but we had rarely, if ever, talked about the medicinal benefits.
“Ummm … some people think so,” seemed like the most appropriate answer at the time. She stopped for a minute and then went back to coloring. And that was that.
So, it began … how we talk to our kids about cannabis. I am of a unique position; cannabis has literally put food on the table as long as my kids can remember. My kids know a lot about cannabis. They know it’s a plant. They know that there are different strains that make you feel differently.
They know that growers like us are heavily taxed by the state and make rules that often make their mama cry. They know it’s federally illegal. They know that different government agencies have lied to the people about the benefits of cannabis. Cannabis is bound to come up as topic in elementary schools; it’s just under a very different pretext than when you or I was a kid.
I was a “bathroom consumer” for a while, but now it seems silly to hide cannabis consumption.
The real “A-ha!” moment was when I realized I had edibles in my purse one day. “Kids! Pay attention to me for a minute. If you find candies in my purse that you need scissors to open, don’t eat them. They have cannabis in them.”
“What will happen?” Coolidge, then 5, asked.
“You’re going to feel real funny. You’re not going to die, but you’re going to feel like it. And then it’ll pass.”
“OK,” they said and went back to playing.
I think the big thing is that it’s about age-appropriate answers and we, the adults, feel much more uncomfortable than the kids do. In their world, they are just asking a normal question like, “Mama, what’s for breakfast?”
Adults must push that uncontrollable “OMG, here we go” feeling down and answer calmly, honestly and without judgment. Children rarely ask follow-up questions, which means it is time to drop it and move on. When the child is ready, they will ask more questions and our job is to continue to answer honestly.
Recently, I was bringing my kids home from school with a friend.
Radler offered, “My parents grow cannabis. Do you know what that is?”
OMG, here we go. What are they going to say?
“Cannabis is a plant that can help people with cancer […] And you want to make sure it doesn’t have pesticides. Pesticides on your cannabis isn’t good.”
If that is what they pick up from conversations, I’m alright with that. That was the easy part, though; I knew I needed to call the friend’s mom and let her know the conversation happened. Can’t you see it? “Mom, guess what I learned at the Rosellison’s house?!”
While it feels uncomfortable in the moment, honesty about those awkward questions has served our household well. Our kids know that we will always tell them the truth. If I lied about it, I would have to fess up sometime and then what have I done to our relationship? Telling the truth, and letting the child lead the conversation hasn’t led us astray yet.
I will let you know how the teenage years treat us when we get there.
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