I parked my car on the side of the road, just outside of the drive way. Immediately, my eyes assessed my surroundings….
The driveway appeared to have more than one broken down car, awaiting the spring weather to be fixed. The yard was fully inhabited by a wide range and variety of toys, that had been left out in the elements to rust. The porch was lined with lawn chairs and flower pots, filled with soil and mixed with an over abundance of cigarette butts….
I quickly stopped my mind from making its judgement. Though there were a multitude of things that could have been tidied in my scenery, I certainly had enough things at my own home to be fixed, before I worried about someone else's. Besides, I was sure, once I got inside, that things would appear entirely different….
The reality is, that things are different today, compared to when I was a kid…which was different from the generation before, and so on and so forth. When I was a kid, if someone asked you to sleep over, the answer was almost always yes!!! My parent didnt need to meet their parent, they didn't have to talk on the phone, and if it was in walking distance, they didn't even necessarily need an address. Our parents didn't assess the cleanliness of a friends home, they didn't need to check out the safety measures that the other parents had in place, and we were certainly never sent with list of things we couldn't eat, in lieu of our allergic response. A simple…”Don't eat that, and be home by lunch tomorrow would do!
…but that was in a happier time, when children listened to their parents and could tend to themselves.
Smoking was fairly popular for adults, when I was in my youth. Parents didnt step outside their homes to smoke, like they do today. They lit up right in front of the television, the dinner table, even the toilet if they were going to be in there awhile! AND TRUTHFULLY, if a child (like myself) happened to get caught smoking cigarettes with their friends, and say….started giving them to their younger brother for recreational use, they too had to sit at the table in the house, to finish smoking their pack of cigarettes, that was given in punishment. It simply didn't matter… Kids weren't bothered by the commonness of it, and other parents didn't prevent their kids from sleeping over, because odds were, someone in their house smoked too!
…Now, obviously times have changed. As parents, we check everything before a sleepover. We have to have met the parent, or at least have another parent vouch for them, saying they are a good citizen. We have to know that their kid is not a trouble maker. If possible, we would like to know where the parents work, what's their appropriate range of ratings on movies, and what time they will have our kids to sleep. We bring lists of numbers where we can be reached, and we give limits on the amount of soda our children can have. Some parents, even bring lists of food that are okay, or bring over their own items if they aren't satisfied with your own.
Most importantly though, we have to view their home!! Obviously there is no good, nonchalant way of getting the whole tour, but we have to get our foot in the threshold of the living area. We have to see if its safe. We have to make our JUDGEMENT!
Smokers these days are unfortunately judged. It knocks a parents status down immediately. I try not to make this judgement, because I myself smoked for 20 years before quitting….its a hard habit to break. However, society has placed a mark on these poor souls. Not only do adults judge them, but the children have been taught to as well. Seeing a kid in the back seat, with a smoking parent in the front, sends some people to their breaking point. We now not only speak of second hand smoke, but third hand smoke, and the kids know about it all. A parent who smokes in their home today, is being judged.
….I wasn't the one who dropped my son off at this slumber party. I didn't get to make my pre party judgement, though I don't know for sure what I would have done differently. As I made my way to the door, to pick up my son from his party, I told myself that I would not be one of these parents. I told myself, that Its okay that they smoked…it doesn't make them a bad person. Obviously, they smoke outside, much like my own family when we visit, so they were being accommodating and considering the safety of our children.
When the door opened, a child the size of my own son was standing at the threshold. He welcomed me in. My eyes still innately searched for signs, while my son fetched his bag. I searched for things that were off!
The floors were carpeted and stained with what could only be dog urine, yet the dog was in a crate in the kitchen. The air was concentrated with stale cigarette smoke, from what could only be due to years of indoor smoking, that is now a part of the walls, furnishings, and living space. The rest of the space was filled with clutter and disarray.
Though I could hear idle chatter upstairs, I never once saw a parent….
As my son and I walked to the car, I thought of a way to ask him questions without offending him.
I said “Clearly, those parents smoke”?! He said “yes”.
I told him that it was at least good that they went outside to smoke…right?! He laughed and said, “No they didn't”! He then told me their whole technique. When they wanted to smoke, they would call all ten boys downstairs, and then made them go outside in the 20 degree weather, so they could smoke inside!!….I admit, I started giggling and so did he…
….On the way home, I starting thinking of my own youth. I was POSITIVE at this point, that the way we do things now, is MUCH better!!:)