Two of the Grandkids called up to the Manor yesterday.
Granddaughter the Elder and Grandson the Younger arrived with a matching pair of shoes for me which was nice.
In the course of the visit they went upstairs to see Herself, but shortly after Grandson the Younger arrived down. He wasn’t his usually happy self and I could sense something was wrong.
He’s a lovely kid – the quiet and thoughtful type. In many ways I look on him as the son I never had. He is extremely bright and the two of us have long conversations about life, what makes things work and times past.
Anyways, with a bit of gentle probing I discovered what was bothering him. While he had been upstairs Herself had sparked off a cigarette and he was worried that she was about to die. Not only was her death imminent but it was going to be extremely painful and nasty. What the fuck are they teaching kids these days?
Now I had a bit of a problem. I could just wade in and tell him that everything Teacher says is a load of fucking bollox but that could shatter his belief in some of the good things he’d been taught. I could ignore his worries altogether and tell him that all was fine but that would just be a platitude. It was a bit of a rock and a hard place scenario.
I’m not going to tell him that smoking is fine and dandy and good for his health. I am not going to promote smoking and offer him a fag to try out. But I’m not going to have him worrying about his grandparents dying in agony either. I had to do something.
Now GtY is very good at maths and logic so I decided to work on something he could grasp. I told him that about 20% of people now smoke in Ireland. He understood that, no problem [“that’s a fifth? Right?”]. I then told him that nearly three quarters of the population smoked fifty years ago. He was amazed at that and it took a while to sink in. So I hit him with the punchline – if the majority of people smoked back then, how come there are so many elderly people around now? He suggested they were the non-smokers who had survived. I countered with the reply that if three quarters of the population had died there wouldn’t be as many people around of my age. This took even longer to sink in.
So we had a grand chat about smoking in the old days where people could [and did] smoke just about anywhere they liked and people lived healthy lives and didn’t drop dead on the streets. He was amazed at this. “So people didn’t die of horrible things?” I replied that some did and some didn’t but that was just the way things went. As I pointed out – we all have to die of something at some point.
I can see I have a long battle ahead of me undoing the anti-smoker damage. I have to be careful not to baffle him with tales of faulty studies and bad research. While I hate the garbage he is being taught, I don’t want to glamorise tobacco or promote it. I’ll leave it entirely up to him whether he smokes or not [he has another nine years to make up his mind after all].
At least when he went home he was a lot happier about his Granny and her little smoking pleasures.