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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Social Faux Pas

My kids aren't afraid to speak their minds. I'm pretty sure I know where they get that. You're probably pretty sure, too.

Yesterday I was unloading them from the family mobile and there was a very elderly lady standing nearby, within ear shot. She leaned on her cane and fished a cigarette from her purse and lit up. Dear Son piped up loudly, "Why does she have a smoker, Mommy? Why?" I tried to casually shush him, silently hoping the lady didn't hear. If she did, she ignored it. She was grinning at Dear Son and waving at him. No doubt he reminded her of her own great grandson or something. As she grinned at him with her "smoker" hanging out of her mouth, Son scowled back at her and said loudly, "Why is that lady waving at me, Mommy? Why?" I shushed him again. This time I was pretty sure she heard him.

Meanwhile, Dear Daughter had climbed out of her own door of the family mobile and we all began to walk past the woman, who was still leaning on her cane and puffing on her "smoker" and grinning at the kids. Dear Daughter skeptically sized her up and said to her, "Why are you smoking? Don't you know that it's bad for your lungs?" I was mortified as the woman's smile faded a bit. I offered the woman a nonchalant smile as a sort of peace offering, desperately hoping the woman was hard of hearing. Nonetheless, I waited until we were out of earshot before I informed my Dear Daughter that what she said was absolutely correct. However, it is not appropriate to say it out loud. She protested, "But Mommy! Why would she smoke like that? Doesn't she know it is bad for her?" Her little brother piped up in her defense, "Yeah! Why was that lady having that 'smoker'?" I reaffirmed again that it is indeed bad for a person's health to smoke. Then I reasserted that it still is not polite to try to "correct" a grown up...even if they are right.

All the while I was wondering to myself how someone who puffed on "smokers" like that could live to be the estimated 85 years of age that this lady looked, and I thought that perhaps if my children had only met her sooner, she could have been better educated on the effects of smoking and in quitting, perhaps could have extended her life to about 120 years or something.


Ed (zoesdad) said...

The thing is, she was probably only 50 or so. The smoking made her look 85.

MGM said...

Yeah, I considered that. Only she had hair white as snow, stooped over pretty good when she walked, and quivered as she clung to her cane.

CaraBee said...

Maybe she was French. Don't they all smoke and live to 100? One time, when I was flying back home from a visit to family, our plane was greeted by air marshalls. Turns out a little old (easily in her 80s or 90s) lady, in a wheel chair, had lit up in the lav.