Monday, August 4, 2008

Candy Cigarettes for Kids---Why??

My son, Nick, has a mild case of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) as do a lot of kids on the spectrum, but I think it is fair to say that he does become overly obsessed about a subject, person, or a thing more than his typical peers. In the past it has always been about Superheroes: Spiderman, Batman, Superman--you name it, he’s obsessed about it. However, his latest obsession seems to revolved around--now get this--candy cigarettes.

I don’t know how exactly he made the “maturing” leap from superhero video games to cigarettes; I can only tell you that we are NOT smokers, and we don’t have friends or family who smoke; but someone in society has struck his interest, or maybe school health class because they did a series on: Why you should not smoke and "showed" a video. Either way, he picked up on smokers and is now--obsessed. Now he does know--from health class and from us-- that smoking is unhealthy and I reinforce that smoking is very bad--causes addiction, and can shorten your life…blah, blah, blah…is probably what the boy has been hearing because he’s still obsessed with the subject. A phase, perhaps, but listen to this little adventure:

We were away for a week at the cape (Truro) and went to the flea market that is set up at the Wellfleet Drive-in Theater--if you know the cape, then you know this place. Well don’t you know Nick spotted a toy cigarette; looks real, but, of course, it wasn't and, "dontcha know," that his father actually bought it for him. I was floored and Nick was in make-believe cigarette heaven...

“Good God!” was what I had to say along with a little prayer when Nick and I were waiting inside our minivan for my husband and daughter to finish up shopping, and I had the van door wide open. I casually notice two older nuns walking by from a mere distance and were, seemingly, interested in our car--Hmm, I thought, so I turned to look at Nick seated in the rear of the car. He was relaxing back, feet up on the seat and just puff, puff, puffing away on his “cigarette.” Puffing as real as a real cigarette would look--the boy could have won an academy award for his role under the category: “Fake-Cigarette Smoking.” Horrified, I looked at the nuns, the nuns looked at me, we all looked at Nick, and Nick was just smiling away and oblivious… and if my face looked horrified, they looked like two sopranos singing in a choir. I had to turn away and laugh--just a little--but what else could I really do? Jump out and yell across the parking lot: “ It’s just a ‘toy’ cigarette that my 13 year old is puffing on to his heart's content and that I ... um… bought for him..." Yeah?… NO!! I let it go and I “prayed” that they would just keep on walking… "Have a nice day, Sisters…”

Candy and toy cigarettes need to come off the market!!

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