You CAN Tell the Smoker at the Park to Butt Out

All parks need these

Oh warm weather, how I’ve missed you!

Late nights in the backyard catching fireflies. Waking up to fresh air blowing through windows. Baseball on the TV.

And, of course, playdates at the playground with the kid.

Which brings me to something I haven’t missed.

The people smoking at the playground full of kids.

Every year it happens, and this year’s no different.

Wednesday night it was a mother, with an infant in his little car seat perched on the ground beside her, puff, puff, puffing away while my kid, my friends’ kids, and I’m assuming her kid played.

I wanted to say something. 

I was a coward.

And as I drove myself home, I got angrier and angrier — not at her but at me.

Why didn’t I say something? Why didn’t I stick up for my kid? For her kid?

I could give two figs if people smoke in the privacy of their own homes or even their own cars (provided there are no kids trapped inside the cancer mobile). This is not the rant of an American trying to take away your God-given right to give yourself lung cancer.

It’s the rant of a mother who knows that our kids have enough hurdles awaiting them on the path of growing up healthy.

Every time you turn on the news there’s another recall, another report of a funky chemical showing up in kiddie products. BPA in bottles. Formaldehyde in pajamas. Hormone-interrupters in their tear-free shampoo.

And those are just the things we know about. The evils lurking ’round the bend keep parents up at night.
We don’t need more stress. We don’t need careless people knowingly putting our kids at further risk.

This is the problem with smoking at a park, folks: you aren’t just making the decision to puff on that cigarette for you. You’re making the decision to spread both second and thirdhand (yes, it’s real — look it up) with everyone else.

And at parks, particularly, “everyone else” tends to be made up primarily of people under 4 feet tall, people who have a fighting chance of not ending up with lungs like yours, people who can’t really tell you to shove it.
Which leaves their parents to do it for them.

I’m sorry I didn’t say anything the other night, sorry even though I imagine it would have gotten me the stink eye, sorry even though I know I would have ticked off a stranger. I owed it to my kid to do it, and I failed.
I won’t next time.

I’ll be that mom at the park with the look of righteous indignation on her face, the hands on her hips.

Will you join me?

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Image courtesy of Jennifer Price


  1. […] The playground smoker. They don’t call it a cancer stick for nothing, folks. Die on your own time; not around a […]

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