I, like hundreds of others tried smoking at a very tender age. My parents were smokers. They had grown up when the risks were not as emphasised as nowadays. Everyone in their social circles smoked even their close friends the local Doctors and their wives. As I reached my teenage years the risks were far better known and I watched my parents struggle to give up. They did both manage to kick the habit but it had been hard.
So, as a youngster I thought it best that I try it out. Being the eldest I would be called upon at some point in the future to show the others how to do it. After one of my parent’s parties I, being an early riser even then, carefully gathered all the old dog ends I could find and created the beginnings of my pyre. With my parents and any overstay guests still sleeping off the excesses of the night I launched into my first (and soon to be only smoking frenzy). I was adept at lighting the cigarettes and puffed on them quite contentedly and so grown-uply. Realising that I could not emulate the hypnotic smoke rings without inhaling as well as puffing, I lit up another. I put the tip to my mouth and inhaled deeply, drawing in the dying dregs of nicotine before it hit me; that awful nausea. I was so violently sick that day that I have never even been tempted to try another cigarette to this day.
At 15 I was distraught when my best friend did an exchange to Spain over the summer and came back hooked on the mild ciggies as she told me. I was convinced she would not live to see out all our plans we had made. It was other circumstances that changed our plans; her running off to marry and have children thankfully she is still here today and sadly still trying to quit. I had come back from my summer exchange incredibly fit, radiant with sun kissed colour but with a broken heart having fallen passionately in love with the slightly older, tanned, sporty brother of my exchange friend.
Without being hypocritical I do have an issue learning that Middle Son has been caught at school smoking. A few years ago I discovered that he was smoking while out with friends. In a town as small as ours where we know nearly everyone, he will need to be a lot smarter than he currently is to keep many secrets from us. We discussed it at the time and he assured me in his nicotine smelling breath that, it was his friends that were smoking and he was just there cos they were his friends.
A year or so later I did really believe that the novelty and defiance had worn off and he had given up. However even a mother can be hoodwinked especially when she wants to be. He had begun cleaning his teeth vigorously and discovered lynx deodorant which he used liberally.
Warning bells then rang when a few weeks before the end of last term the school called me to tell me there had been an incident at school, a near fight was averted with the timely arrival of the teacher. Middle Son was about to turn on the boys tormenting him. He was removed from the group and the boys were reprimanded. They had been after his bag to get hold of the tobacco they believed to be in there. He assured his head of year he no longer smoked and the boys were mistaken.
They had only been back a week and he was seen rolling papers on his way to school, which when confronted he emphatically denied the smoking and told Sexy Sporty Dad they were for the friend he walks to school with as she smokes and her parents are ok with that.
I now learn that he was taken out of school one day last week and spent the day with his tutor, other teachers having to set him extra work to do as he followed her from lesson to lesson. The head of year will be calling me to inform me he was caught smoking on the school grounds. I dare say this same head of year, who has invested a lot of time in Middle Son will be more upset by his not telling the truth before Christmas than this latest misdemeanour .
How thin is the ice I am about to tread. He is a teenager and I am afraid to say, it is in his nature to try these things. I suspect there is nothing I can do to actually stop him, as he will do it behind our backs. What I intend to punish is the fact that he lied to his head of year, to his father and to the boys who were punished for bullying him.
He is grounded for a fortnight.
It has all turned out ok because he has decided to take up running and he disappeared having borrowed Sexy Sporty Dad’s running shoes to go for a run all by himself. A battle of cunning I suspect. What he forgets is his parents may be aged and forgetful now but it was not that long ago we were teenagers and we helped write the book on rebelism. We called him when we realised that the poor boy must have fallen in a ditch or been kidnapped by aliens he was running for so long. We also called his friend’s father. He returned needing a desperate wee in the downstairs bathroom that I now realise has acquired a spare toothbrush. Sexy Sporty Dad delayed him long enough to receive a nicotine enhanced tang each time Middle Son spoke.
It is going to be a long fortnight.