Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Smog Dilemna

I am fast heading towards being that person that my family thinks is insufferably snotty about smokers. Both sides, hubby's and mine.

Neither of us has ever smoked and the older I get the less tolerant I am towards the smell of cigarette/cigar smoke. Both my parents are extreme, packet a day smokers, who have been smoking for 40+ years. The smell is deeply embedded in their skin, as well all their belongings. When we return from a visit with one or the other the whole family strips down and showers. My oldest daughter and I can't stand to sleep with the smell in our hair, and even Husband admits to not feeling clean until after a shower.
I don't sit in the presence of smokers wrinkling my nose. I don't cough pointedly, or make snide comments. But I do tend to stay away wherever possible these days, and I don't like people smoking round my kids.
This one really bothers me.
My mother thinks it is enough to step outside of her small unit and onto her small, 1x1 metre balcony and smoke there with the door open, facing us and breathing the smoke into the unit.
My father plain old doesn't care and refuses to leave a room if it is his own house.
My husbands familyis even worse, with most people happy to light up cigarettes inside another persons home, a public hall, or an enclosed outdoor eating area, even while the kids are still around.
I know that socially, this is not the norm these days. Most of the smokers I work with take themselves outside for a quick ciggie, and would never DREAM of smoking around any ones kids. In fact, when I was working the old 9-5, I was even a little jealous sometimes. A stressful meeting would break up for 10 minutes and half the room would leave to duck out for a smoke. They would come back in refreshed, chatting from the brief social experience, and chilled out to go round again. Somehow my toilet run and glass of water doesn't quite fill the same need that their cigarette does.
So its not everyone who behaves like this. Just family. You know, the ones we are stuck with whether we choose to deal with this politely or not.
Husband and I have dealt with with the inconsiderate smokers in our lives over the years. Most especially the last 2 years. I've offended my mother by insisting she close her door while she smokes. I haven't yet asked her to wash her hands again before touching my newborn afterwards, but its on the tip of my tongue. So close. Last time I got an indignant sniff. Who knows what I will get when I draw the hand washing card.
We avoid social requests with some of Husbands siblings and relatives when we realise they will insist on smoking at the dinner table or around the kids. And we remove the babies when people light up around them. Madeleine knows how we feel about smoking and will go be somewhere, anywhere else, if the people around her light up.
But we were at a family party yesterday, and there were so many people lighting up. When I say family, in Lebonese talk, this is our immediately family (which is already 20 people), + a million extended relo's of the baby whose birthday it was. We started outside away from smokers. Within a short period of time, someone sat down nearby and lit up. She was joined very quickly by someone else. Fair enough, these days smokers have been forced outside so that kind of means outside is fair game. I moved into the open garage that had been set up as a party area. I had tired and grouchy Lolly with me, who was in no mood to party, and Seb was being held across the room by someone else.
In no time, relatives of the hostess were moving in and out of the garage with smokes dangling from fingers and lips as they coordinated the party. My mother in law knows how strongly I feel about smoke around the kids and very obligingly moved outside with Seb while I took Lolly to play on the jumping castle. But again, quickly even this was taken over by men standing to the side of it smoking.
I get really angry by this. Even angrier because I feel bound by courtesy to bite my tongue yet I feel so strongly that they are displaying a far bigger rudeness than anything I would say. Who smokes around children these days? Honestly? With the exception of our relatives, everyone else I know removes themselves outdoors and stays away from kids when smoking.
We played this cat and mouse game with the smokers all evening, until I finally called it a night early. The last straw was all the smokers and their smokes moving into the garage to be part of the cake cutting. My sister in law begged me to stay a little longer, and in my frustration I snapped at her to control her smoking relatives. She doesn't even smoke herself poor love, but she still got the snippy comment. But we stayed long enough to let Madeleine have a whack at the pinata (I know it seems crazy, but I know how obsessive a mum can be about their babies first birthday. It was our Lolly's first birthday not so long ago, and SIL desperately wanted Maddy to have a turn at the pinata) and then made our polite goodbyes.
MIL seems a little crushed that we have asked her not to throw a welcoming party for Seb the way she did for Lolly. But with all these people insisting on smoking around the babies, I can't see that it would end well. Because if it was a party in Sebs honour, I would no longer feel bound by courtesy to ignore their rudeness.
I would say something, politely first then more and more forcefully, until I cheerfully kicked someone out of my party. And back to my earlier point. These people are family. I'm stuck with them no matter how polite I am so I think I better stick with telling MIL no for the party.

Do you smoke? Do I seem like another annoying high horseman to you? Or do you feel just as strongly about smoking and kids?


  1. I share your feelings on this Elise. My parents were heavy smokers (thank goodness they have both quit now) and I came to loathe the stale stench that permeated everything. People at school thought I smoked as my clothes reeked of it. Due to health issues and the kids, my parents have now stopped and it is so much more comfortable to visit them now we don't have to worry about the smoke. I hope your combined family take the hint sooner rather than later, before their passive smoke affects the younger generation.

  2. It sucks. I know. You know I feel the same way but your right we kinda have to bite our tounge. I don't know if you remember once I told them to go outside and smoke for something that was happening at my mums and they got all pissed off cause I had asked them to. And at the ladys night a relative of mine asked if she could light up a hookah I told her no straight up and they she can go outside to do it. I wasn't going to pussy foot around her. she disregarded my No and still did it. I should have gone back up to her and told her i said no but that would be me being disrespectful.


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