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Precious Chong on an innocent question, and a longer answer.

“Mommy, what’s marijuana?” I knew this moment would come, I just didn’t think it would be so soon. We were in Los Angeles driving to the airport and they were talking about legalizing marijuana on the radio.


“Well Jack … marijuana is a herb that people smoke to feel different. Kind of like alcohol, but it makes you feel a different way. It’s not legal in a lot of states. If you smoke it as a teenager it can also alter your brain chemistry.”

“Oh and Grandpa Chong made some movies about it in the early 80s and that’s why he’s famous.”

Talk about opening a can of worms.

My parents were hippies when the culture was neatly divided between “straight” people and “hip” people. We lived in Venice Beach in the early 1970s and tourists would stop us to take our picture, because we were the quintessential Hippie Family. They didn’t let my dad into Disneyland because he had long hair.

It’s only recently at the age of seven that Jack has noticed the differences between my parents’ life and his life in Toronto. “Wow, this place has three bathrooms!” he exclaimed recently. “How come the houses in Toronto don’t have pools?” or “Mommy, who bought this house?”

“Grandma and Grandpa did.”

“I know, but who bought it?”

“Well, Grandpa made some movies and he’s famous, and that’s how they have a lot of money.”

Jack was in the bath having just had a swim in my parent’s ice cold pool used mostly for decoration unless Jack is visiting. He thought for a minute and then asked, “Did he direct them?”


A couple days after Jack and I returned from our trip, Wes and I went to meet Jack’s new teacher. He’s in grade 2.

“Jack is such a stylish dresser!” was her first remark.

“Well, his grandma likes to buy him clothes.”

“Yes he told us that the sweater he had on cost $500!”

Okay, so my mom bought Jack an expensive sweater a year ago. It was from one of those overpriced European children’s clothing stores and cost $150. A lot of money, for sure – it was beautiful and it makes my mom happy. Jack likes nice clothes.

He also treats his clothes very badly. Like he loses things, drags them on the floor, rolls around in the dirt, but mostly he loses things all the time. So, in order to instill some sense of responsibility I tell him, “Jack, this sweater is very expensive so you need to treat it with care and not lose it!” I had no idea it would backfire like this.

And that wasn’t even the sweater he was wearing. The sweater he was wearing was from the Gap. “I really don’t like Jack talking about things like that,” Wes tells me after we leave. Who knows what will come out of the marijuana conversation?!

I can’t wait for the next teacher meeting.

Dad, Mom and Precious

Precious Chong is a writer and actor living in Toronto. She’s also a professional stilt walker and the daughter of cult movie hero Tommy Chong.

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