So while this space usually is front and center for Connor, he does have two other brothers who, in fact, I am a parent to, and sometimes, they need to be written about. Today is one of those days.
When you have a child who is special needs, with a disorder that is uncommon and with few capabilities, you just don't read all the parenting stuff. It's too depressing. So you drop that from your must-read list and just get on with beginning to understand how to raise that child. Then another one comes along, if you are lucky or stubborn or both, and if she or he is not special needs, you still don't read all the parenting stuff. Because you work full time and you have two children and a husband in an evening MBA program.
Basically, you wing it.
So this weekend, Drew had a birthday party at the Kettler Ice Center. He and I have been skating together a handful of times, but this time, I hung back and let him hit the ice solo with his classmates. It was wonderful. He did so well. He's not much of a try-er, but he's pretty balanced on skates, and when he falls down he just gets back up. I cannot say he is always like that with all his endeavors. He kept asking me to come out, and I kept telling him he didn't need me any more on the ice because he was skating so well. Eventually, he held the hand of one of his classmates (she also went to preschool with him) and they skated together. It was adorable. Her dad was on the ice with her, but he hung back, videotaped it, and then turned and gave me a lovely smile and a thumbs up.
Time came to leave, and we headed into the parking garage. We went past a few people at the tailgate of their car. About 20 feet past, he leaned into me and whispered, "Mom, I saw someone smoking!"
"Yeah. It looks cool." NOT what I wanted his reaction to be. So I asked why, and he shrugged. Then, without prompting, he asked me if smoking was good for you. I LOVE WHEN HE GIVES ME AN OPENING!
No, Drew, it's not. It's very bad for your health. When you smoke, instead of inhaling air with oxygen for your body, you inhale chemicals that are poisonous to you in teeny doses, and that hurts your organs in your body.
I was pretty proud of that answer. Also, I was pretty proud that I did not go full Mama-lecture. We just kept walking and talking. Like a pediatric Aaron Sorkin script. We're walking, we're talking, we're giving Big Tobacco the boot.
"I will never smoke," he decided unilaterally. I didn't even have to tell him additional, more personal details, like about his grandparents who still smoke (though his father did) or his grandparents who quit smoking (one of whom we almost lost to smoking on a March day a long, long time ago). It was a shockingly simple discussion, and I know it's just a beginning of opportunities now that he's clearly noticing the world around him in a much more detailed manner, just as he should be.
When I was his age, my absolute favorite treat at the snack bar at the pool we belonged to was a package of candy cigarettes. We would scrounge up the $0.25 they cost, and then run over during adult swim and buy a pack, letting them hang from our lips as we'd seen the grown-ups do with real cigarettes.
I still enjoy eating them on a rare occasion, though my teeth feel about twice as thick from the pasty gunge that ends up coating them after I down a pack. But I won't even let me kids know they exist. I know they will love literal sticks of sugar, but I don't want them equating them with anything pleasant. For their own health.