Let me preface this by saying, I’m kind of amazed that this is necessary. During a recent trip to the park, I was shocked to see a grown adult smoking a cigarette as she walked with her toddler. The park was full of parents playing with their kids, all of us running around pushing swings, boosting kids up the rock wall and cheering at the bottom of the slides. It was a beautiful day at our favorite local park, filled with picnics and kites and a couple stray Super-Soakers.
There, right next to the monkeybars, a mother was smoking as she helped her young one hang on to the bars. I could tell that most parents were so surprised, they didn’t really know what to do. We all just gazed in astonishment. I don’t like to judge people for their own perfectly legal vices. But when they practice those vices, especially ones that cause cancer in innocent bystanders, in front of young children, I get a little cranky. The craziest part of this situation was all the parents standing around, not saying anything. Our manners got in the way of saying, “Excuse me, this isn’t right.”
So next time, parents of Buckner Park, we’re going to be ready. Instead of simply moving our kids to the other side of the playground and hoping they don’t notice the person smoking by the baby swings, this is what we’re going to do.
- Cough really loud everytime they come within ten feet.
- Glare menacingly and then whisper snide comments to the parents near us.
- Start randomly listing all of the complications caused by second-hand smoke. “Ya know, it’s not just cancer. There’s heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, gum disease…”
- Explain to your children, “That’s a bad choice,” everytime they come within earshot.
- Leave abruptly and apologize loudly to your child, “I’m sorry, but this park just isn’t safe for you.”
Ok, I’m joking. A little. We’re not going to be passive-aggressive and rude, because we have common sense on our side. We’re going walk right up to them and say, “I’m really sorry, but I would appreciate it if you didn’t smoke at the park. It’s not good for the children’s lungs and its not a great habit for them to be watching. Thank you.” And if they don’t listen, we’ll call our local parks department and ask them to post “No Smoking” signs at the park. Because while I’m all for personal liberty, sometimes we need a little common sense as well. And no smoking around children, that should be common sense.