Monday, May 11, 2009

Fresh Taste of Menthol

So I'm driving along with my daughters in the back of the minivan, with the usual amount of humming and talking gibberish and occasional shrieking at a passing dog outside the window. Each of the girls has been provided a small notebook and pencil with which to scribble. I look in my rearview mirror to see one of the twins holding her writing implement between her fingers like a cigarette. She puts it to her mouth and takes a deep drag, before continuing her humming and talking and shrieking. What?! She pauses again to take a mighty puff off her make-believe ciggy.

I'm hard-pressed to think of a single person in my family or social circle who smokes. It's probably because they're afraid of what my father might do to them. He is militant against smoking. Trust me when I suggest to you that you don't want to light one up around him. Did I mention he trained at the FBI Academy in Quantico? I grew up in an era when people smoked freely in restaurants, airports, and hospital lobbies, and I can't tell you how many times he embarrassed me as a teenager by using his exceedingly loud voice and intimidating physical stance to shock and awe any person sitting next to us who dared pull out a pack of Marlboros. 

The only person I know with a nicotine habit is my friend, Lucinda, but she lives in California and has never met my baby. So how in the world did my daughter learn to mimic smoking?

Could it be that all of those university studies are onto something? Is my daughter picking up behaviors from the movies she watches? Please don't tell me I've unwittingly exposed her to Cruella De Vil as a role model. She was supposed to be a WARNING about what happens to your skin after a lifetime of smoking.

Maybe there is some weight to the notion that children can be influenced by glamorous strangers. Perhaps my innocent darling picked up proper ash-flicking technique merely by toddling past a federal worker standing outside his office on a cigarette break. Heaven knows she's seen her fair share of loitering teenagers, texting with one hand and holding a cancer stick in the other. Wherever she learned her impression of a chain smoker, I know one thing . . . 

Grandpa is NOT going to be happy.

Dinner last night: mac and cheese

1 comment:

Michele said...

Out of 8 children over the past 18 years, I have seen the majority of them, at one time or. another, puff on a pretend cigarette, acting as if they were the epitome of coolness. One or two of them have also puffed on actual cigarettes, but we won't get into that now.

We don't have cable either, and nobody in the family smokes. They have also professed extreme anti-smoking sentiment at times. So what gives?

It must be ingrained.