“The Cigarette man doesn’t wear his shirt when he is smoking. I think he is a good man except for smoking” – said my daughter (She was referring to someone she sees on a frequent basis). This is what she told me while I was driving her to the dance class on Saturday morning.
I don’t smoke, so this topic never came up at home during any of our discussions. But it didn’t take me much time to realize that just because it doesn’t happen at home, it’s not happening outside. I’m referring not just to smoking but in general all the complex issues of human relationships to the habits to the social and political problems. All these exist and whether I like it or not, whether I want it or not, the kids will come to know about them one way or the other. Such is the age the kids are living in.
And that’s how the bedtime story that I was going to tell my daughter was titled “Drugs, Cigarettes and Alcohol”. I was hoping that I would tell her about the good and bad and since I didn’t do any of those, it might be an easy story for me. But it wasn’t all that easy.
drawing by Surina
Cigarettes and Drugs:
Me: So you know why it’s not good to smoke cigarettes or use drugs
D (Daughter): it’s bad for your health and may affect your lungs.
Me: Thats right. Remember how when you dust something, you immediately cough. This is the way the body is telling you what you just breathed in isn’t right and hence you cough.
Similarly when you smoke, your lungs get damaged, but it’s takes sometime for the body to react.
You know, there is an uncle back home in india who smoked very regularly. When his body started reacting or when he got sick and coughing a lot, he went to the doctor who then warned him to quit smoking and it’s been more than 10 years he never smoked again!
D: so why do people smoke?
Me: (Wasn’t expecting this, especially after what I thought was a very good explanation). I said, it’s hard to tell, but it could be due to many reasons. Most commonly, it’s just a teenager thing that you start for fun and for being cool and then they
D: get addicted.
Me: (phew) Exactly. And once they get addicted, they do more and more. They start smelling bad, their lips go dry and black and they are also hurting their lungs.
Then they would become the cigarette man (or woman)
Me: it’s another addiction that hard to get rid off and it can also severely damage your lungs. That’s why I never had it.
D: But Srinu mamu does drink
Me: (Gotcha) well Srinu mamu knows when to stop drinking and more importantly when not to drink and how much. If you take too much alcohol then you brain stops functioning and you can’t tell the difference between what’s good and what’s bad
D: what do you mean?
Me: so let’s say you are driving and then you see the red light. Instead of stopping you just keep going because your brain stopped working and you can’t judge properly.
When you do that you hurt yourself and you also hurt others in the process. So you are putting yourself and others in danger, sometime in a lot of danger.
So say no to Drugs, Cigarettes and Alcohol, goodnight !
My daughter taught me yet again that she is a very keen observer and learns a great deal just by observing what happens around her. And what is more important she isn’t afraid to talk about her concerns or ask me questions. She isn’t worried about how I would react or whether I would be offended. Or may be she is just too young to think about my reactions.
I just hope in general when the kids become independent they still find their parents accessible, approachable and also confide in them. Similarly I hope parents can also find their kids accessible, approachable and can confide in them 🙂