My Parents Drink Too Much

A Day in the Life of a Typical Child of Heavy Drinkers

My alarm goes off and I wake up feeling tired. I didn't get much sleep last night, because Mom and Dad were fighting again. Even after they stopped, I couldn't get back to sleep for ages. I couldn't stop worrying about where I will live if they split. Will I have to go into care? And if I do, will it be better or worse than what I am living with now? It's so hard to know.

I blink myself awake and drag myself out of bed.

If the coffee isn't made by the time Dad gets downstairs, there will be more yelling. Mom won't bother me at this time of day -- she'll probably be getting up around when I get home from school. Dad will be up for work, though, and he's always in a bad mood in the mornings.

Sure enough, he staggers into the kitchen and starts in on me right away. "What are you staring at?" He says, gruffly. I am looking at the cut and bruise on his face. "Are you hurt, Dad?" I ask, hesitantly. "None of your f--ing business!" he retorts. "Now, where's my toast?" I quickly put the toast on, while he drains the mug of coffee I had waiting for him. I quickly butter the toast, then say in my best "happy" voice, "See you later, Dad! Have a good day at work!"

Phew, that was close. I'm really hungry, but it didn't seem worth the risk of Dad's mood to get my own breakfast. I have a friend whose parents always give her more than she can eat.

I'll hang out with her today and I'll probably get offered some candy or chips. Sure enough, by mid-morning recess, I have enough to keep me going until lunch.

In geography class, we are told of an upcoming school trip. I dread these -- my parents never want me to go, and when parents are allowed to come along, it's even worse.

On one trip, my Dad brought a case of beer along and got really drunk on the bus. A bunch of kids thought it was hilarious -- one even said I was lucky to have such a cool Dad -- but I felt really embarrassed. Mr Lee, the geography teacher, was acting like it was my fault. It's best just to say I can't go. I can copy my Dad's signature and not even tell my parents about it. I'll tell the school I'm staying at home that day, but really I will go downtown and hang out. As long as no-one asks any awkward questions, it will be OK.

I get home and Mom is still in her bathrobe. Her eyes are red, and she is chain smoking. She also has a bruise on her face, which looks worse than Dad's. I know I won't need to ask to find out what happened last night. Mom always gives me all the gory details.

Turns out Dad was jealous of a guy in our neighborhood who he thinks likes Mom. She ran into him at the grocery store and he invited us to a barbecue he is having on the weekend. Mom thought it would be fun to go, Dad thought he was hitting on her.

So they started fighting and it got physical. I was just glad I wasn't caught in the middle.

Mom has the dinner ready in time for Dad to come home. When he first gets back, we stay quiet until he has his first drink, which Mom has waiting for him. He's in a good mood and has flowers for Mom. Tonight might be better, but if they drink too much, it could get worse.

I play along with Dad's good mood throughout dinner, then head to my room to play computer games. I can hear them laughing and talking downstairs, then they put music on, and I can hear them singing along to a romantic song. Strangely enough, this doesn't make me feel better. I put my pillow across the bottom of the door to try and block out the sound, and go to bed.

A few hours later, I am woken by the sound of something breaking, and Dad yelling. I put my head under the pillow and fall asleep again out of sheer exhaustion.

This is a fictitious account of a child of heavy drinkers.

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