I saw a commercial for a website called The Truth and just spent the last 30 minutes looking at it. It’s dedicated to telling the truth about tobacco use and tobacco companies.
There are video clips on the website that show people with feeding tubes, stomas, missing jaws, and other ailments related to tobacco diseases. It’s very difficult for me to watch, because it reminds me of my dad’s last few years.
He died when Katie was one year old. Since then, I have not minced words when it comes to discussing smoking with my kids. I started early, pointing out cigarettes to Katie and saying, “Ewww!” I told her that cigarettes are stinky and can cause cancer, and they are the reason her grandfather Steeley died. I started these same discussions with Jackson too. When my kids see someone with a cigarette, they are appropriately appalled and tell me, “Mommy, that lady is smoking!”
Back to today. Katie overheard some of the videos playing on The Truth and asked me if she could watch them with me. I screened them first to make sure there were no inappropriate words or gory photos, then had her sit beside me and watch them. I paused the videos when necessary to answer her questions. She was confused why the woman with a stomach tube couldn’t eat through her mouth, and what exactly IS that stuff she’s pouring into the tube? I told Katie about the woman getting cancer in her jaw and losing it, and how you can’t chew food if you don’t have a jaw. I explained Steeley’s feeding tube and how he wasn’t able to eat anymore before he died, because of the cancer blocking his throat.
With a look of horror on her face, Katie turned to me and emphatically said, “I am NOT going to smoke.” Despite the horrific look, it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard her say. The best part? I didn’t even have to tell her NOT to smoke. She saw the results of it and decided on her own that it’s not a good thing.
I pray she sticks to that vow and, one day, she’ll be alive to see her grandchildren – something her grandfather missed.