Like most mothers out there, I try to do the best job I can raising my children. And that includes not wearing t-shirts that say "Increase the gene pool, practice random mating" around them. But sometimes, as much as you try to protect them from the bad things in the "real world", they manage to shock you. This is a cautionary tale of the risk of reading your favorite classic children books to your children. ;-)
I want to assure you that neither my husband nor I ever smoke and we don't have friends or family who ever smoke around us. So you might wonder why is my son pretending to smoke?
This all started a few weeks ago when we were in Galveston. We were eating at our favorite Mexican restaurant Tortuga (the food is really good and it is right off the seawall so it has amazing views). We always sit on the outside patio so we can smell the ocean and watch the waves. And see the interesting outfits people wear to the beach. ;-)
Smoking is allowed on the outside patio and that beautiful day there was a person smoking a few tables away. But there was a swift breeze and it wasn't bothering me at all.
Imp turned to me and said "Mommy, what is that disgusting smell?". Loudly of course. I turned to him and said "it is only someone smoking, the smell will blow away in a minute". He then said "You know, smoking turns your lungs black." This cracked me up, because as true as that statement is, I had never told him that before because it had never come up. I later found out that Duke had heard it from a relative and had passed it on to Imp. What a good big brother!
I told Imp that was correct and gave him a quiet little speech about how smoking wasn't healthy, and we moved on. I felt like such a good Mom, saving her dear little boy from certain future death from inhaling bad chemicals.
Then a few days later I caught him smoking his homemade pipe seen above. I have to confess I freaked out a bit, because I could not figure out 1) How he knew about pipes? and 2) How did he know how to pretend to smoke one?
Then it hit me. I started looking at some of his favorite books.
Here we see Father Christmas and Babar enjoying a nice pipe together in Babar and Father Christmas. I love this book, along with all of the original Babar books. Replace the pipes with coffee and that could be a photo of me and my husband.
Don't forget Mister Dog: The Dog Who Belonged to Himself. We have the book that their Daddy read when he was a little boy. Nothing beats a corncob pipe. But he does look a bit sad since he really does want to quit.
What lion doesn't enjoy smoking while driving, like on the cover of Richard Scarry's Best Storybook Ever. Thank goodness he doesn't have a beer in his hand, that could get really dangerous.
Here we find Benjamin bunny's father smoking some rabbit tobacco, which is actually lavender according to Ms. Potter. I wonder if anyone has ever really tried to smoke lavender? I imagine it might smell nice.
We don't have any picture books showing the physical ill-effects of smoking (black lungs, cancer and such). However, we see the dangers of fire in smoking in Babar the King. Cornelius burned down his house and almost died because he threw his match in the trashcan rather than his ashtray. I always make a big deal about this story because I want my boys to know the dangers of fires (along with smoking of course).
So now you can see the many reasons why my little Imp is smoking a pipe. I told him that smoking is bad but he assured me that his pipe was a pretend pipe and wouldn't turn his lungs black.
This all reminds me about the candy cigarettes we used to get at Halloween. They were a bit gross but we loved to pretend to smoke them. And guess what, I never became a smoker. Smoking real cigarettes tastes even worse to me than the candy ones. ;-) I have my own addictions to deal with already: Coffee and chocolate and evening cable news...
We read so many older/classic books, many that are completely politically incorrect (have you seen the cannibals in Babar?) and often describe situations that you don't see in current books (like killing, smoking, marrying your niece-Yes, I mean you Babar, etc.). But I grew up on these books and love them and honestly enjoy sharing them with my children. I often think we live in a world where political correctness has run amuck.
But I have to confess after the pipe incident I start to question certain parts of our favorite books as I read them to my boys.
I draw the line on building a guillotine, at least until they are 10. Actually, this looks like a clever idea, thinks the woman who does love to have fresh farm-raised chicken for dinner... :-)
By the way, tonight we had sliced raw red pepper as part of our dinner. Duke stuck one long slice in his mouth and said "Look Mom, I am smoking a pretend red pepper pipe! This is a healthy kind of smoking". Man, I love my boys.
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