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July 31, 2008

It might be secondhand smoke but it's firsthand modeling

J0399548 We recently spent a week at the beach with my parents, two of my cousins, their husbands and children. You might think that a beach house with four kids age four and under would be crazy--and it was--but it was also a ton of fun and very relaxing.

It was a week of new experiences for my son. His first real experience in the ocean (he did get to dip his toes in the Pacific when he was a baby) and with the wonders of digging in the sand. He had fun collecting sea shells and following around his four year old second cousin (or is that first cousin once removed?).

Unfortunately, it was also his first experience with smoking.

I've never taken a puff--or drag or whatever the right terminology is--in my life. My husband smoked casually when we met, which I hated, and he quit just a few months after we started dating. The county we live in banned smoking in public places before we lived here. Now it is banned in the entire state of Maryland and also in D.C.

Now that I think about it, I don't think Lucas had ever been within 20 feet of someone smoking (unless we were walking by--quickly and with me holding my breath--on the sidewalk).

Until, that is, our week at the beach. Where my cousin's husband smoked. A lot.

He always went out onto the deck, and generally, he kept close to the railing, facing out. But, when we were at the house and not at the beach, one or more kids was almost always out on that deck, too. I'll be honest: it bothered me.

But, I didn't say anything. I told myself that he wasn't close enough for the kids to breath any secondhand smoke. The wind was almost always blowing, he stood a few feet away from them, etc. I rationalized to keep the peace. Once we got home I didn't really give it a second thought.

But earlier this week, more than a week after we returned home, Lucas found a little white golf pencil in the grass. He was having fun with it, trying to write on the sidewalk and carrying it around. It was just his size. Then, I saw him do this: take the little white pencil, put it to his mouth, hold it there for a second, take it out and exhale.

Just like a cigarette.

While I still believe that the second hand smoke didn't get to him. Clearly, the behavior did.

And I wish I had said something.

Original post to DC Metro Moms. Read more about Aimee and her family at Smiling Mama.

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