Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

Mother of a Man-Child: Smoking – enjoyed by rebels everywhere! July 30, 2010

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History is littered with rebels – those who do what they shouldn’t do, go where they shouldn’t go, say what they shouldn’t say.  And history and the media have often glorified rebels – to the point of “cool”.  I mean, who wouldn’t think James Dean wasn’t uber cool in Rebel without a Cause?

And why is it that being rebellious and “cool” seems to go so hand in hand with smoking?  One of the most highly addictive and expensive drugs still enjoyed by millions of people around the world, even though they all know it’s bad for them.

As a reformed smoker, married to a heavy smoker (yes shocking I know), I was hopeful that my children would be forever repelled by smoking, and never even contemplate trying them or taking up the habit.  Alas, there’s a rebel born each day, or at least a Man-Child who wants to test the boundaries just a little more as part of his journey through adolescence.

So it was after a recent party, where I had seen many teens smoking outside the party (no, it wasn’t very well supervised – but that’s another story) that I asked Man-Child II if he had been smoking.  Now I couldn’t smell it on him, but something told me if one of mine were to try it, it would be him.  He denied smoking, but when I explained that I would smell his breath when we left the car, he admitted to smoking that night.  I asked why, and he said because an older kid whom he didn’t know offered him one.  “If he asked you to jump off the West Gate Bridge would you?” I exclaimed (sounding very much like my own mother).

I said I was very disappointed, and didn’t want him to smoke.  I gave him all the logical reasons why you shouldn’t smoke, and warned him there would be punishment if he were caught again.  Two days later, during an argument, I caught a whiff of his hands – that same familiar smell of tobacco that I think an ex-smoker can smell even more acutely than a non-smoker.  So he was grounded for the week and missed a party the following Saturday night (I was secretly pleased at this because I didn’t want him to attend it anyway).

We went along for another couple of weeks, until I discovered he’d been smoking again, this time after school with some friends in the park.  So I tried another tack – “How stupid can you be smoking in school uniform?  If you get caught then the school could expel you, particularly if you’ve been in trouble before” (which he has)!!

Two weeks later, yep you guessed it, caught again.  This time though, something switched on in the deep recesses of my brain, a solution so simple that I’d completely forgotten it.  “Okay (Man-Child II), if you don’t smoke until you’re 18 I’ll give you $1,000.”  Well, that was it.  He was rendered almost speechless whilst he took this offer in, before asking me, incredulously, if I was serious.  I said indeed I was, and he promptly accepted!!  He then ran off to tell Man-Child I who quickly came to square the ledger and ask for the same rights – granted of course.

Sweet victory!  I can’t tell you how easy it was.  It’s actually an old family tradition, as my father received £500 for not smoking when he was 18, and we were in turn bribed with $500 for not smoking until we turned 18.  How simple!  Good investment if you ask me.  Now it doesn’t guarantee success I know, but it’s a good feeling knowing that Man-Child II is smoke free for now (but still a little bit rebel). 🙂


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