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June 18, 2010

Is Teen Hookah-smoking Okay?

My son and I got into a text-argument last night. It started because I happened to see that one of his friends posted a photo of her new hookah on facebook with the status "Come smoke with me!" Later, I got a text from Elijah: "I'm at Ashley's*." So naturally I sent him back a text telling him that I don't know what the hell a 16-year-old girl needs with a hookah, but I did not want him smoking. I believe I might have mentioned locking him in his room and throwing away the key. At first he claimed that he wasn't smoking but soon the digital conversation degenerated into him telling me that it's not addictive and it's mostly water vapor and anyway if her mom is okay with it, why aren't I?

Now, I try mostly not to be judgmental of other moms. I really do. But I can't help but wonder what kind of mom would be "okay with" her 16-year-old daughter smoking? Are parents today that naive that they would fall for their kids lame "It's not addictive!" argument? Because I'm pretty sure minors aren't even allowed to buy hookahs, which means she must have purchased it for her. I find this appalling.

See, I started smoking when I was a senior in high school. And I smoked for 25 years. Twenty-five years!! I'm too young to have smoked for 25 years! During that time, I did quit for a couple years a couple of times, but somehow managed to return to my addiction of choice. I'm a non-smoker now (four and one-half years) and truly hope to remain that way. It's a horrible, awful habit that kills people. I simply can not have my son picking it up. It is too, too hard a battle to spend your life fighting.

By most standards, I'm probably really lenient with Elijah. I know that it's not practical to demand absolutes with teens. It's a tough line to walk, because man, it's so very, very fine, but I prefer to encourage safety rather than abstinence. I tell him, "If you're going to sleep with your date on prom, you better use a condom. I'm not kidding, Elijah. Don't ruin your life with a baby." I tell him, "If you have people over to the house tonight while your dad and I are gone and any of them are drinking, they all better still be there when we get home. No one leaves! Do not try to hide it from us by driving." This does not mean that I buy them beer or let couples spend the night in the guest bed. I just try to be practical. I want the kids to be safe above all else.

But smoking? That's where I draw the line. If my child had any idea just how much I gave up in the nine months I carried him to ensure that he would have a healthy body, he would think twice about abusing it. Two things haunt me about that hookah: That I started smoking when I was their age, and that quitting was just so damn hard. I won't have it for him. The foot is down on this one.

* - Some names have been changed to protect my son's social standing.

This is an original 50-something Moms post. Kalisa tries not to be one of those militant ex-smokers, but may occasionally rant on her blog, .