Tuesday, October 19

If we see you smoking we will assume you are on fire and take appropriate action. ~Douglas Adams

Don't you love Douglas Adams?  I  know he died a few years ago, but I read and reread The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in college.  I hung out with the cool crowd as you might well imagine. We read all types of science fiction, wore penny loafers with our sweatpants, and were in the Genetics Club. I believe I was even an officer. We made these t-shirts for our club that we thought were really clever.  They showed some fruit flies meeting in a bar with the slogan "Increase the gene pool, practice random mating!"  Yes, we were not the "The Far Side"...  We were all t-shirt slogan and no action, but it made us feel cool.  ;-) 

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.  ;-)

Here you can see little Imp (who is three) sucking on his homemade "pipe" made of aptly-named pipe cleaners and a straw.
 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.

The winner of the ColorInc Giveaway is #6, holly.colvin@gmail.com.  Congratulations Holly!!! I will email the information to you.


  1. What a funny story! In many of the old Disney movies the villans smoke...like Cruella Deville, and Captain Hook.

    Also, my five year old checked out Little Red Riding Hood from school. I was a little shocked when it talked about the wolf eating the grandmother and Red Riding Hood whole, and then giving graphic details about how the hunter had to cut them out...Ay yi yi...a little more then we're used to these days I guess?

    p.s. Love your new blog look!

  2. First-thank you for the great giveaway! I feel like I'm one of those "I never win anything" people, now I can say I have won something!! Thank you! Second, I agree with our political correctness run amuck! I used to "smoke" candy as well, and I would never smoke anything besides my pipe cleaner and red pepper pipes either!

  3. Great observations Mom! I did love candy cigs and never smoked like yourself. Although it kinda makes me crave some wax lips!

  4. hehe, LOL I love you Rita.. never thought about this before.. and all your pictures.. lol.. so funny I've read those books before and sure enough just looked passed it. Hopefully my lil guy doesn't make a pipe any time soon. Awesome post.. thanks for sharing.

  5. My boys did behead all of their plastic army guys. It provided some great photos, all while I hummed La Marseillaise (the French national anthem)

  6. I adored Douglas Adams, so sad that he passed so young.
    Do you know about Neil Gaiman? The D.Adams for the next generation.
    Thanks for reminding me of a great writer.

  7. Funny story!! Don't forget Frosty the Snowman! After all these years of watching him, I only notice him smoking a pipe AFTER I allow my boys to watch it. Yeah, I had candy cigarettes as a kid too and I never used the real ones.

  8. I love this post!! I agree that we have politically corrected ourselves right out of common sense sometimes! I also "smoked" candy cigarettes as a kid, and with the exception of about a year of stupid college girl choices, I've not been a smoker. I also miss the old cartoons with Foghorn Leghorn, and Wylie Coyote, and Bugs Bunny, and...:-)

    I've never read it, but my son LOVES The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy!

  9. Curious George and the Man with the Yellow Hat are also pipe smokers. I read it to my two year old but I always drop the line about the pipe smokin'. :-)


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