Question Corner II
AN6 Contributors, 18 July 2017

Dear Ludmila,

I’m a mother of four in Akron, Ohio, and it’s no secret we have a problem with the Great Archfungus here, but I thought I raised my children well enough to stay away from that sort of thing. So imagine my horror when last week I was looking through my 10-year-old son’s bedroom and found these little plastic bags of fungi.

When I confronted him, he told me they were just magic mushrooms, but my wife took them to the witch who lives in the little wooden hut under the overpass that’s only there during the full moon and she said she couldn’t find any fairy enchantments on them at all! I know it’s the Great Archfungus. Ludmila, I always admire your perspective on education and parenting — what do I do?

Sincerely,

— Afraid in Akron

Dear Afraid,

It can be heartbreaking to find out that our own children have turned to substance use to cope with life. We live in a culture where being clean is synonymous with virtue, and we’re taught to look at drug users as dirty and broken. Right now, you’re probably asking yourself if you’ve failed as a parent, if you should have been more strict, what you need to do to punish your son to make sure this never happens again.

I don’t talk about this much, but in my days as a young werewolf fleeing persecution from the Bulgarian state, I myself became addicted to heroin, which I used for years to numb the pain of my uncontrolled transformations. At first I told myself I’d only use it during the full moon, but I started using more and more until I was so strung out I could barely keep ahead of the police, who had orders to shoot me on sight after I messily devoured my entire family.

As an adult, it’s been a priority of mine to help children who have suffered as I suffered. I was involved in the protests in the ’60s that forced the medical establishment to take the shapeshifter community’s problems seriously, and I’m proud to say that after the establishment of transformation clinics where young werewolves can go to receive prescription painkillers under medical supervision for their initial transformations, the incidence of both heroin abuse and mass manslaughter by adolescents has dropped dramatically.

What I can tell you, from working with countless youths getting high on everything from fractal meth to cursed fairy gold to Unknown Compound Alpha, is that the Great Archfungus is not some mystical force of evil that compels the weak-willed to ingest it and give their bodies over to its inhuman agenda. It hasn’t had the ability to do that since the ’80s. Kids use the Great Archfungus not to hurt their families, not to rebel, but because they themselves are hurting, because they feel lonely, and the companionship of oneness within the global fungus-mind helps them sooth their loneliness.

The approach you need to take is two-faceted. Firstly, you need to make sure your son understands the dangers of his drug use. I highly recommend you take part in some education exercises together, like watching Dr. Jephremiah Blutkampf’s award-winning 1993 documentary Fungus Among Us, which accurately and impactfully portrays the horrors of the Great Archfungus Epidemics without being hamfisted. There’s also the Third Great Archfungus Epidemic Memorial Museum in Columbus, which I would encourage you to take your family to. The important thing is to make sure that whatever you’re doing, you’re doing it together — if you come across as lecturing him from a position of authority, you’re telling him “I’m not your friend, I’m not here to help you, I’m here to control you.” That is one of the fastest ways to lose your children’s trust, especially since I’m guessing you’ve never smoked “spore” yourself — and since you're already “looking through his room” without his consent, I think it's fair to assume you haven't done a lot to engender trust. It doesn't matter if you think he's hiding the Lost City of Xalabraddon in his underwear drawer, you need to respect your son and his boundaries. You can make a good start by sincerely apologizing to him for that invasion of privacy.

Secondly, you need to take a look at what you’ve been doing as a parent and ways, if any, you might have been leaving your son feeling alone and neglected. Do you spend more time with your other children? Is your son showing signs of untreated depression? You need to talk to him, and take his emotional state seriously. He may need counseling — although it’s important you find a counselor who will treat him as a human first and a drug user second, which very few counselors are willing to do. He may need help finding friends, or overcoming social anxiety, or more freedom than you’ve been allowing him; many children smoke spore because their lives are too circumscripted and it’s the only way they can socialize that bypasses their parents’ control. Whatever the case, you need to be a mother who will care for him and love him, not a cop who will rip him limb from limb and carry him back to its nest feed to larval-stage constables.

I sincerely hope you and your family can find healing in the coming days. You deserve it.

Yours truly,

— Ludmila Larionova

Ludmila Larionova is Approved News 6's education correspondent. Born in Bulgaria in 1976, Larionova emigrated to America when she was only in her teens in search of quality education, and to avoid persecution from the Bulgarian state, which had ordered her arrest after she messily devoured her entire family. Larionova holds degrees in public policy, journalism, and education. She lives in the forests of Utah with an itinerant band of shapeshifters, tricky witches, and her pet parakeet Mr. Smiley.