DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: Regarding your response to Worried Mom, you were right telling her she should clean the teenager's room and see what's there. About your suggestion on what to do if she finds "serious" drugs, I was just curious about what you consider a serious drug. Even legal drugs may be harmful if used in excess. Tylenol, especially when hungover, can damage your liver and even cause liver failure. Prescription pills cause more deaths than any illegal drug combined. On the other end of the spectrum, cannabis hasn't killed anyone in 5,000 years of historical use. It treats cancer victims both in pain management and helping psychologically cope with the disease, as well as surprisingly many other forms of disease. Are you, Miss Lonelyhearts, an opponent of reintroducing some ancient herbal remedies in to the above-ground market? If Worried Mom finds a small amount of cannabis, rest assured, her son's world will not end if she approaches the subject with caution and makes sure he knows NOT to go beyond cannabis. But don't ruin his life by over-reacting to a little grass. It would hinder his life tenfold if you harshly reprimand him for using pot. You should actively not discourage light pot use as opposed to alcohol, which should be grounds putting the foot down heavy. I hope you can see where I am coming from as I don't condone the use of any potentially psychoactive substances for minors, but the way we need to react to the situation needs to change. -- Sparky McPuff, Winnipeg
Dear Sparkky: You say light pot use is better than any kind of alcohol use. Most people would rather see their kid have a beer or two and get a ride home with a designated driver. You're not really taking the moderate middle road here, but are on the other end of the pro-pot continuum. I agree over-reaction is a bad idea with teenagers at any time but saying a parent should "actively not discourage light pot use as opposed to alcohol" amounts to encouraging grass use, and that's over the line.
Dear Readers: In response to Worried Mom, I received other letters from people who had already barrelled in and "cleaned' their kids rooms and found an assortment of surprises, as in the letter below:
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I was spring cleaning and found a half-full bottle of rum and a huge stash of condoms hidden in a ski boot box under my son's bed. Should I talk to him about the birth control, or just be glad he's using it? I was shocked at how many there were -- literally boxes. He doesn't have big money for that kind of collection. Where did he get so many? A thought occurred to me that he might be swiping them. What should I, as a good single mother with no dad around, do about this? He does have a steady girlfriend from university and they are both 18. Do I even have a right to say anything to my son, as they are both adults? -- Hesitant Mom, South End
Dear Hesitant: Your son probably thinks you don't go looking through his room anymore. He should be warned mothers occasionally do that with kids who haven't left home yet. They can't help themselves; it's a habit born of worry. Then tell him this in one big breath: "When I was spring cleaning I tried to mop under your bed and bumped into a condom supply that was very large. I'm glad you're protecting yourself and your girlfriend. I just hope she's using a second form of birth control in case the condom should fail -- slip off or tear. He may say, "Is that all you have to say about this?" In that case, you say yes, and that you will never be in his bedroom again -- once he moves out. On the other hand, he might be happy to talk after he tells you strongly to stay out of his room.
Questions or comments? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or send letters c/o Miss Lonelyhearts, 1355 Mountain Ave. Winnipeg R2X 3B6