What is this, you ask?
An asparagus. A harmless green vegetable that my kids have seen on their plates many times before. This same green vegetable sometimes induces gags with one of my kids and the inevitable stinky diapers with both, but never in a million years did I expect to see what I did at the dinner table tonight. One boy picked up the asparagus and held it between his index and middle finger.
“Smoke come out,” he said. Then he expertly put it to his mouth, inhaled and looked at me with those two-year old teenager eyes, testing me to see what I would say.
A little background. We do not smoke in this household. We don’t know anyone who openly does. The only chance the kids would see someone smoking is when we’re out and about, and even then I try not to make a big deal about it unless they’ve brought it up. On the one or two occasions it has come up I have told them that smoking will cause their eyeballs to shrivel up and burn and hair to grow on their tongue so they can’t taste candy anymore.
So I told my tough kid tonight with the best sympathetic look I could, “you poor thing, your eyeballs are going to shrivel up and hair will grow on your tongue and you won’t be able to taste candy anymore.” And he put the asparagus cigarette down. And that was that. Thank God. I think I might have won this match and I tried not to look victorious all. And part of me just wanted to throw up.
The fact that my guy had picked up on so many little details despite being so sheltered blew me away; the intriguing smoke coming out of fire stick in mouth culture in a new era where we no longer see the Marlboro man, or the dancing cigarette. The fact that I’d forgotten that life is still so new to toddlers is going to stick with me, and I thought I better share. They are still watching us even though they’re not babies anymore. They are taking EVERYTHING in. Everything. Even things we didn’t think that they would pick up on or see. And that makes me wonder and hope that the things I teach them with my actions are the same things I want to teach them deliberately.
I will not be serving asparagus for a long time. The other boy will be thrilled. Maybe that was their master plan.