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Son mistakes bag of basil for something else

One day last week, Noah walked in the back door after school and spotted a little Ziploc baggie filled with herbs lying on the kitchen counter.

“Um, Mom, what’s this?” he asked. “Weed?”

“Yeah, I’m smoking pot,” I quipped.

“Nice,” he said, on his way to the cupboard to forage for snacks.

It seems I’ve failed to educate my son about what marijuana looks like. Apparently, it looks like basil, and, apparently, I’m not alone. Oddly enough the very next day, my friend Jayne, a.k.a. my “supplier,” had a similar conversation with her own son. Though her basil plant had been thriving on her kitchen counter right next to the television for four whole weeks, he only just noticed it.

“What are you growing?” he asked her. “You growing weed?” He smelled it and decided, “Yep, that’s weed.”

Nice. Noah really does know what marijuana smells like. You see, I’m an information-is-power kind of mom. Um, no, I don’t advocate sniffing-out opportunities to educate your kids’ noses, but when the opportunity wafts past, well then, I say go with the flow and use it. Like the night four years ago when Noah tagged-along with me to the Obama rally in Grant Park the night of the election.

When nature called, we stood in line at the bank of port-a-potties, where anyone who’s ever spent time in a college dorm could easily have detected the unmistakable aroma of marijuana lingering in the balmy November air.

“Hey Noah, do you smell that?” I asked him, then.

“The potties?” he asked, wrinkling his nose.

“No,” I replied, stifling a giggle, “that other smell, the sort of sweet one.” I thought it was important that he know what it was, and told him so, so that someday, if he ever smells it again when he’s with his peers, he can make an educated choice for himself about whether or not he wants to remain in the situation.

The air did smell sweet, that night. Sort of like basil, now that I think about it. Maybe Jayne’s son was right.

My other Facebook friends got a kick out of our boys’ reactions. One, who recalled my “family meeting debacle” of the week before, wherein I broke every rule in the how-to-have-a-“productive”-family-meeting rule book (including rule No. 1: make sure everyone is fed and watered first), even wryly suggested that I might be able to redeem myself at our next family meeting if I introduced the clan to basil.

You know, a little passing of the peace-pipe, if you will. I can just see it. The thing is, I also unwisely agreed to Holly’s request that we hold our meeting at 8 p.m. – when, unfortunately, I become super-silly, giddy and unproductive (particularly helpful in the face of others’ mounting frustration) and laughed so hard that tea came shooting out my nose.  (Yeah, mother of the year, here. I seriously think they left some critical mom-parts out of me at the mom factory.)

So maybe a little basil would help. No?

“So that’s what they think we’re doing all day when they’re at school?” Jayne asked, after reporting on her son’s “findings.”

Yeah, kids these days.

• Jennifer DuBose is a contributor for the Kane County Chronicle. She lives in Batavia with her husband, Todd, and their two children, Noah and Holly. She can be reached at


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