I don't quite know how or why I formed this opinion, but I decided quite a long time ago that it made sense to help my children learn to drink alcohol. I don't want them to learn their drinking habits from teens partying secretly away from their parents, or when they first move away from home. I don't want alcohol to be a tool in aid of adolescent conniving and rebellion, nor do I want my kids entering adult life without any prior guidance and experience in responsible drinking.
The law where we live (as in virtually all Canadian provinces) states that minors can be served alcohol by their parent or guardian in a private home or residence. I always assumed that sometime during their teenage years we'd be offering our kids occasional drinks. We certainly tolerated toddlers helping themselves of sips of beer in good humour, and we do allow the kids to drink tea, decaf coffee or an occasional cup of the regular coffee. And we've never outright refused to serve the kids wine; they've just never asked. So there's some context to next week's Ethnic Cooking Club event that features French cuisine.
Ethnic Cooking Club is just two families with a whole whack of kids between us, and we get together once every week or two to explore a little of the culture and cuisine of a particular nation or ethnic group. Next week is France. Today I mentioned to the other mom, who is definitely a kindred spirit in most aspects of parenting, that our family was hoping to prepare Crêpes Suzette, with flaming cointreau, which would of course burn off the alcohol, mostly. I wanted to make sure she'd be okay with that. She said that of course she would. She also joked that she was having trouble brainstorming French dishes because every time she envisioned a French meal, she got visions of fine French wine, and the wine kept distracting her from the food.
"Kids drink wine with meals in France," I said. "It would be authentic."
She got a wicked twinkle in her eye. "Would you be okay with that?"
"Sure," I said, returning the twinkle. "I wonder if we could use one of the kids' SelfDesign Learning Allowance accounts to pay for a bottle of nice Merlot?"
I was kidding about using the school money, but neither of us was kidding about the wine. Not a lot of social studies programs for middle schoolers include wine-tasting, I'd wager, but with homeschooling, anything goes. The kids think this is positively a hoot.