By Dom Cioffi
I took my family to the ocean this past weekend for a birthday celebration. This needed to be a bigger-than-normal event since my son was officially transferring into the realm of a teenager. The plan was to soak up some sun, play a little golf and eat to our hearts’ desire.
I took the opportunity during our several-hour drive to the coastline to have a heart-to-heart, father/son conversation with him about becoming a man and all the things that go along with that transition.
We’ve had these conversations on and off for the last couple years, but I wanted to drive home some important points and this seemed like the perfect time and place to do it.
I launched into my talk by explaining the big picture: that in the eyes of society, he was no longer a child, but would now be considered a young man. And with that shift comes a new level of responsibility that he would have to live up to.
I outlined how his middle school experience would be over soon and any leeway he was getting grade-wise would fade as he transitioned into high school. We talked about college and the armed services and the advantages and disadvantages of each. I even picked his brain about career interests even though I knew he had never given it much thought.
We broached the subject of girls and sex and the changes that were happening to his body (boy, did that make him uncomfortable). He had a few questions, but it was apparent he had yet to see the allure of females and even less interest in what might happen if he did.
Finally, we reached what I considered, the most worrisome topic: drugs and alcohol. I’ve always spoken openly about these vices because I wanted to instill in him early on that they were part of life and nearly impossible to avoid. I don’t care how good of a parent you are, you’re not going to be able to shield your child from drugs and alcohol forever. Eventually they will encounter a situation that forces them to consider using one or both.
My fallback message has always been, If you don’t try it, you don’t know what you’re missing. I’ve said it so many times that my son now finishes the sentence when I start it. Reality says he will likely experiment, but I think he’s still too young to broach that subject.
Lately, I’ve been concerned when I see my son interact with video games. There is a level of addiction present that is bothersome to me. He will lie, cheat and steal just to find a way onto his console. And if I take it away (which I’ve done on countless occasions), he simply finds a way onto his friend’s machine.
I can’t tell whether the games themselves are addictive or if my son is displaying an innate inability to govern his own playing time. Regardless, I want him to understand that only he can control that desire and that someday he will undoubtedly be faced with a situation where he will have to hold back on temptation.
It’s my greatest hope that he will have the intellectual tools to deal with this when it happens. I’ve read, watched, and heard about too many stellar young men and women who are brought down by drugs or alcohol before they have a clear understanding of what is happening to them.
The next thing you know, years have been wasted chasing after a destructive intoxication. And that beautiful loving child has now turned into a monster that you can’t recognize.
If I can help my child navigate this tumultuous period and remain fairly unscathed, I will consider myself a very lucky parent.
This week’s film, “Colossal,” features a young woman who is battling one of these addictions and while she struggles to remain sober, stumbles upon a bizarre link between her and a monster located halfway around the world.
Starring Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis, “Colossal” is one of the more “out there” films I’ve seen in several years. In fact, I’m still trying to figure out if this picture was filled with clandestine metaphor or just freakishly strange. And while I admit that “Colossal” was inventive, I think that the ultimate plot twist will end up being lost on most viewers.
Check this one out if you’re in the mood for something really different or enjoy the occasional off-kilter screenplay. If your tastes run more towards the normal storylines, I would encourage you to sit this one out.
A monstrous “B-” for “Colossal.”
Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.