I remember when my daughter was 11, she was still asking for Happy Meals whenever we went to McDonalds, which wasn’t very often. As a divorced Dad, I would sometimes stop at a hamburger place on the two-hour drive home for the weekend. My son and I poked fun at my daughter, wondering why she was still interested in silly plastic figurines at her age. She stood her ground as she always has, leaving us wondering how it was possible to play with imaginary characters and stupid toys, but at the same time, we respected her for being so determined. She was always forthright, calculated, scheming, devious and absolutely charming. She’s a very street-smart girl. I love her so much.
Within just a couple of years, her mother told me that my daughter had been caught smoking. I suspected that if she’d only just been caught, she’d probably already been smoking for a while. Perhaps she’d even been smoking before her last Happy Meal. It wouldn’t have surprised me. After all, I’d been smoking on and off since I was 12 years old because that’s how it was back then.
In many ways, I see my daughter’s character both positively and negatively reflecting my own. I feel proud and ashamed at the same time. I feel worried because I don’t want for her to take as long as I did before quitting. I want for her to have the best possible chance to live healthily. It makes me sad to think that I quit smoking more or less around the same time as she started. I was 48 and she was 11 or 12. I had smoked for over 25 years and was elated at having managed to quit. I thought that my exuberance at the time was contagious, giving the message that smoking is an evil thing and that no person should ever have to endure nicotine addiction. For me, that’s how it felt.
I can only hope now that with a little persuasion, some open conversation and a lot of support, she manages to rid herself of her dependence on nicotine. I will be there to help.