Regular readers will know that I get a bit of a bee in my bonnet (I wonder how Google Translate deals with that one!) about the word Alcoholic.
(See my post: Are You an Alcoholic?)
I believe that alcohol is like any other addictive substance - nicotine, crack cocaine, heroin etc - if you try hard enough, and consume enough of it, you'll eventually lose control.
The reason this is important, is that were are led to believe that the vast majority of the population are able to drink whatever they want without a problem. It's only the poor 'alcoholic', born with an incurable disease, who can't cope with alcohol.
I like to think that if I'd grown up being told treat alcohol with caution! It's highly addictive. Drink too much and you'll end up dependant, I wouldn't have ended up in this mess.
Or at least I'd have recognised the warning signs earlier, instead of endlessly Googling 'Am I an alcoholic?' and reassuring myself that as I didn't drink vodka in the morning I was 'okay'. Carry on! Bottoms up!
However, having had my usual rant, I DO believe that some people have a genetic pre-disposition towards addiction. Not just addiction to alcohol - any addiction.
Look at me and Mr SM. We both started smoking at boarding school, because it was what the 'cool kids' did.
He carried on for fifteen years as a 'social smoker' (I mean, what is that about? How does one do that?) whereas I ended up having cigarettes for breakfast.
Same with my Mum and Dad - Mum was an occasional smoker for years. Dad - a rampant addict.
(Both Dad and I quit fifteen years ago).
I'm sure that eventually, if Mr SM and my Mum smoked enough fags (British terminology alert!) they, too, would have become addicted, but they would just never want to. One or two was always enough.
Exactly the same story with alcohol. Mr SM and my Mum - happy to have a glass and stop. Dad and I would compete to finish the bottle.
I have, quite simply, an addictive personality. I just don't get moderation. And that's not entirely bad. I do think that addicts are people who throw themselves into life with huge gusto. They are - we are - fabulous people who grab hold of life by the short and curlies.
But I worry about my kids. Because I've become quite good at spotting addicts. Those people who are always looking for more. As they say - it takes one to know one.
I'm not too concerned about #1 and #3 - they seem, like their father, to be pretty good at the whole 'moderation' thingy. But #2 is a different kettle of fish.
I have been wrestling with #2's addiction all half term: Minecraft (and, to a lesser extent, other computer games like Clash of Clans and Jurassic World).
When he's not playing these games himself, he likes to watch other people playing them on YouTube.
(Is anyone else familiar with the barely adult, multimillionaire YouTuber called Stampy? He spends so much time in my house that it's like having a fourth child!)
I so wish it was like my childhood, where the only screen was the television, and kids TV (provided by the good old nanny BBC) was always semi educational: Jackonory. Blue Peter. Take Heart.
I try really hard to limit the time #2 spends doing these things, but it's exhausting. I have to keep finding activities out of the house, which gets expensive, and eventually you just run out of ideas.
How ironic that I should spend my whole life being the voice of moderation!
What worries me about kids and Minecraft, is that I see all the same addictive behaviours: the obsession, the tantrums when it's restricted and the increasing lack of interest in anything else.
What makes it even more tricky is the 'code of silence' around the whole issue. None of the Mums want to admit that their child spends too much time on screens (or is it really just me?), because it makes them look like a bad parent.
#2's best friend's Mum (who I really like), told me that her son is only allowed a screen on Saturday mornings before breakfast. He doesn't even watch TV (unless it's David Attenborough). I nearly died of shame.
So, much as I've loved half term and all the lazy mornings, I'm rather relieved that they're back to school today. No more Stampy, with his annoying faux cheerfulness, for a while....
Love SM x