Now, I started smoking when I was fourteen. A really cool and cute guy offered me a smoke and I said no thank you. And for some insane reason I started soon afterwards. Turned out my best friend smoked and I never knew. Of course when I admitted to her I smoked, I pretended I’d done it for ever and a day… but I didn’t inhale… yet. She “taught” me to do it properly. Man what a head rush! In fact, and you may find this interesting, one of the first “conversations” I had with Damien’s father was over a cigarette. I had promised to bring him one when he had asked and I hadn’t had any. When I gave it to him the next day- he smiled at me and winked as he turned away- and his dimples made me melt. This was after he’d already asked me out and I’d said no. In fact it’s one of the few moments I remember as clearly as if it happened this morning.
We smoked at school. There was a group of smokers who congregated at certain spots on the school grounds to smoke before school and during break. Every now and then the prefects and teachers would organise a raid because everyone knew where we smoked, but I never got caught. I was just plain lucky. I smoked for sixteen years. In between I stopped for just over a year- when I was pregnant with Damien and for a while afterwards- but when I started working I started again. I am an asthmatic, so it’s r4eally stupid. And I ended up in hospital twice with asthma and pneumonia. Its now two years since I had a smoke last. And honestly, the only reason I stopped was because I literally couldn’t breath anymore. I am now on a steroid inhaler twice a day, everyday. And I carry and asthma inhaler with me everywhere I go. There’s also one next to my bed. Sadly, even after two years, I still need them both on a regular basis. And it’s almost the only reason I have not yet started smoking again- not being able to breath scares the crap out of me. The other reason is (of course) Damien. The look on his face when my dad brought him into the emergency room to say goodbye after I was admitted and I was on an oxygen mask and a drip and heart monitors and all that has stayed in my mind. He was scared and crying and it scared me. I am selfish too- I don’t want to miss anything he might do or achieve growing up, and I know that smoking might make me miss it.
But heaven help me- I miss my smokes!
When I stopped I was smoking around thirty to forty Chesterfield Lights a day. And I didn’t smoke at work because after the laws made it illegal to smoke in offices, it was too much of a schlep to walk to the smoking area at work. So that was thirty to forty cigarettes between 3pm and 11pm everyday. I was quite literally chain smoking. I didn’t have ashtrays big enough.
Well. One of my parenting nightmares has become a reality. I caught Damien smoking today. Did you guess and s from the picture maybe?
Those closest to me will play witness to the fact that I have a permanently blocked nose and almost no sense of smell. For me to smell something it has to be seriously potent. I was sitting in the living room and I smelt smoke. Now I know the difference between cigarette smoke and regular smoke. I go down the passage to Damien’s room and say “I smell smoke.” Would you believe he tried to play the innocent wounded one? Seriously- he denied it. It almost turned into an argument. Then he admitted it and handed over a box with one smoke and a lighter in it. I made him sit in front of me and smoke it. I wanted to see if he was really smoking or just puffing it. He wasn’t happy. It turned into a lecture of sorts- but I tried to stay cool and calm. He said he’d been smoking since school started again, about two weeks ago. I spoke to him, I didn’t cry or shout. He still has that stiff fingered flat handed grip on a cigarette, so I know he hasn’t been doing it long. But he inhales alright. By the time he finished it he was crying and clearly wasn’t enjoying it. He also promised not to do it again.
Can’t he save anything for next year?
There Is Never An Excuse
One in three is not a statistic - one in three is a crying shame.