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Who DOES that?!

So The Child woke from her (usually early) nap after only 45 minutes yesterday. I was in for a long tedious afternoon.

To “get her wiggles out”, I took her to the park in the afternoon. Now, I usually only go in the mornings, just because of the logistics of her nap and my dinnertime, so it was a somewhat new experience. I didn’t know most of the moms or kids, there were a lot of older kids, that sort of thing.

Anyway, I was sitting with The Child and playing catch and wondering if I should go to the doctor’s because my bronchitis was really acting up and I was having trouble breathing. Not good. When I noticed that at least some of the trouble breathing was… smoke?

I looked over and there, pushing her infant daughter on the bucket swing, was a mom. Smoking.

Completely without thought — practically without volition — I sighed to The Child, “Oh, God. Smoking.”

The mom looks over at me and offers a smile and says, “Sorry.” And takes another drag.

Now, this child was less than a year. Easily. I’d say closer to 9 months. Of course, if her mother smokes around her, maybe she’s just small for her age, so I could be wrong. But either way, smoking around your child is wrong. It may be legal, but it’s wrong.

And smoking around other people’s kids? In a playground designated for toddlers?


When she smiled at me, I returned her smile with one of my own. The one my mother calls “Amanda’s going-to-rip-your -throat-out smile”. The woman sort of shrugged and turned away.

I turned to The Child. “Five minutes.” The hell if I was going to stay around while this woman committed slow suicide.

The mother made some sighing comment to her friend and stubbed the cigarette out. In the bone-dry mulch at the foot of the swings. Then she left the cig butt in the mulch.

“Three minutes.”

The mom tossed me a glare.

I contemplated saying something but decided against it. Two reasons:  One, she’d already stubbed it out.  Two, nothing a random mom on the playground  said was going to affect her behavior. From her guilty glances and angry glares, I can deduce that she knew she was in the wrong. If she was so addicted that she continued to do it anyway, my (probably less than entirely calm) rant was not going to change her mind.

However, since I refrained from ranting at her, I rant here.

I’ll admit that I’m slightly prejudiced. My two aunts both died in the past five years from smoking. (Okay, and heavy drinking, but still…) I’m an asthmatic because of second-hand smoke — my mom smoked throughout both her pregnancies and my childhood. My brother is struggling with quitting smoking.

My mom, incidentally, didn’t quit until I got engaged. Because when we were discussing the engagement and marriage, I mentioned that I wouldn’t let my child ever stay the night at her house because the second-hand smoke was bad for kids. She is still bitter and misses smoking. She says “When I get Alzheimer’s, the first thing I’m going to forget  is that I quit smoking.”

Great. That’s a great idea. A forgetful old woman leaving lit cigarettes around the house.

There’s a group of moms who walks by my place often. They have toddlers and are pregnant. They all smoke.

I was a libertarian in college but I’m really getting to the point where I think that smoking should be outlawed within 100 feet of any minor. And I really wanted to scream at that mom.

Categories: the playground
  1. Wendy
    October 20, 2007 at 12:55 am

    I understand your anger. I can’t understand why women can’t stop smoking while pregnant. I get it you are addicted and it is hard to break, but if my step mom can quit while she was pregnant then others can, too. She did start up again soon after the kids were born, but never in the house.

    What I can’t stand is when I see 2 adults smoking in a car with the windows rolled up. I feel so bad for the kids in the car that have to just take it. I really want to go up to them and ask how stupid they really are?

  2. Raise Hell
    October 21, 2007 at 7:16 am

    I think the 100 feet rule is the best idea ever.

  3. October 24, 2007 at 2:11 am

    California is trying to pass a law to make it illegal to smoke in cars–I think only when children are in the car. Sorry I’m too lazy to find a link for you!

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