So today I was awakened by my 4 year old yelling and crying. Normally he climbs in bed with me and we snuggle for about 30 minutes together before we have to get up and start our day. But today was different. I flipped on the light and to my amazement he was yelling “There’s a choo choo in my hair!”

I of course had no idea what he was talking about until he turned around and sure enough there was a mechanical Thomas the Train tangled in his hair. I tried so hard not to laugh, but I couldn’t stop the internal giggle, because well you see in the life of a mom of all boys, nothing shocks or amazes you any longer. You just take it in stride, laugh a little, and sip on your morning coffee as you cut Thomas the Train out of their hair.

They are so sweet and so innocent for such a short amount of time, you wake up one morning and you’re cutting Thomas the Train out of their hair, and the next thing you know you are waking up in a panic hoping they are home safe in their dorm room or their apartment while they are off at college. But somewhere in between there you have to talk to them. You have to teach them right from wrong, and you have to hover a little bit to make sure they are with the right people and making good, wise choices.

And hopefully you have a strong enough relationship that they are open and honest with you. I recently entered the “teen years” with my oldest; and to be honest he has a fantastic group of friends that he runs with. But as a parent you can’t assume they are always doing the right thing. And you can’t assume that they know what is right and wrong. You may think they do, but if they have never been exposed to the dangers of the world, how will they know what’s right and what’s wrong?

You assume they know not to drink and drive, but they aren’t born with that innate knowledge. Hopefully over the years, yes, they picked up on it; but you know what they say about “assuming”. You assume they know not to take medicine, particularly prescription meds from friends; but they may not know that it’s illegal, it’s dangerous, and it could seriously damage their bodies.

Talk to them about sex. I know this is a subject that makes most parents extremely uncomfortable, but they are just young people struggling to survive the teen years, and puberty, with all of these crazy thoughts, hormones and feeling raging through their bodies. So help them. Be there for them. Be their parent, but be their friend too. Help them make the right decisions and choices that will further effect the rest of their lives. Because you must remember, one wrong choice can affect the rest of their lives, and yours too. Don’t have the attitude that if we don’t talk about it, then they won’t do it. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Talk to them.

My girlfriend and I were having a conversation one day, and she asked me what all I have talked to my son about; and I was very honest and told her what we have and have not talked about. And she got a little embarrassed and shocked at what we talked about. But he had a lot of questions for me, and I wanted him to learn from me and not hear it in the locker room at school and receive the wrong information. So it was important to me to put my feelings aside and handle the situation head on.

I had a very dear friend that is about to “celebrate” (I loathe using that word when in conjunction with death)…so I guess “recognize” is a better word to use. He is about to recognize or acknowledge the one year anniversary of his son’s death due to an extremely unfortunate prescription pill mishap. This friend of mine wants people to understand they must talk to their children and explain to them the dangers of drugs and other choices kids have to make in their lives. Maneuvering through life is difficult enough as it is, but having the extra added burden of sex, drugs, and negatively influential friends compounds the complexities just that much more.

So please remember the little people your kids are or once were and just know that they may not know. They may not know right from wrong, they may not know something is illegal, and they may not know what can and cannot harm them. Please don’t ever assume, please talk to them. You only have one shot at this parenting thing, so let’s do it right the first time around.

Please understand that if there has been an unfortunate situation occur in your life with your children, I’m not saying you did a bad or poor job, parenting is the toughest job in the world; I’m just asking for parents to start talking now, before it’s too late.

Samantha Stroube-Daviss is a local columnist based in Corsicana. She may be reached by e-mail at columnwriter98@hotmail.com. Following Samantha’s blog at http://samantha-daviss.blogspot.com and on Twitter at @SamanthaDaviss1.