When I was a little kid, we lived within a few miles of a small candy store down near the beach. My friends would come over to my house and we'd ride our bikes down to the beach, always ending our day with a stop at this candy store. This was back in the late 80's (nothing like showing my age, right?), so the political correctness factor wasn't quite as high as it is today.
Case in point were the candy cigarettes we'd buy all the time. They were basically pieces of gum that were rolled into cylindrical tubes and encased in white paper. If you blew into the tubes, "smoke" would come out the other side. We were like six and seven years old, "smoking" fake sugar cigarettes. Not exactly the best public service announcement.
I remember one time, I was at the candy shop with one of my friends and it dawned on us that candy cigarettes were obscenely foolish.
"I keep asking my dad to stop smoking. Why are we buying these dumb candies?" She asked me, looking skeptically at the "cigarette" in her hand.
"I know. I feel like I'm doing so many things wrong, by pretending to smoke. And these things have a lot of sugar in them. If my mom knew, she'd totally yell at me," I said.
"Would she be madder that you were pretending to smoke or madder about the sugar stuff?"
It was a good question, and I remember the look on her face when she asked. I answered, "The pretend smoking," and we rode our bikes back to my house soon thereafter.
Now that I'm a mom, I've been wondering what life was like for my parents, taking care of me and the demands of my diabetes. Did my mother ever wonder if I was smoking cigarettes, or drinking beers, or skipping class? Did these worries compound when she added in her concerns about my diabetes regimen? What was my mom truly more worried about - smoking or blood sugars? Or both? Or did she worry about everything, like every parent does, with diabetes as a constant worry side dish?
The effects of some diabetes decisions won't come into play for years, and when you're a kid, it's hard to think about all the long term stuff. I knew, as a child pretending to smoke a fake candy cigarette, I was afraid that my mom would see me and think I actually wanted to do something as foolish as start smoking. But in retrospect, I knew she knew that I knew better. (Holy overuse of the word "knew.") My mother would have been more concerned about the immediate effects of the sugar in that candy, and the cumulative effects of eating those kinds of treats. She would have wanted to lecture me about taking care of myself and not letting diabetes be something that affects my health anymore than it already does.
But instead, she would have told me that smoking is bad. And that I shouldn't even pretend. And she'd hope that the side dish of diabetes worry would end up served anyway, without her having to open her mouth.
And now, as I adjust to parenthood myself, I wonder what kind of warnings I'll have to serve on the side when it comes to my daughter.
Published On: July 15, 2010