It's early morning and I'm watching the "Today" show with the kids. I've recently instituted a new policy that there are no cartoons past 7 a.m., they can only watch the news. The news can be on in the background while we work toward getting ourselves ready for school; cartoons turn us into zombies who want their lunches packed 30 seconds before walking out the door.
Anyway, a story comes on that catches my oldest daughter's attention.
It's on "Juuling," a popular trend now, especially among teens. It's also known as vaping and is basically just smoking an e-cigarette.
One study says one in six teens has tried it. I know a lot of teens and haven't heard much about it or seen it, but I guess it's super easy to hide, which is one of it's alluring qualities. That and the fact that there are lots of fun flavors. Well played, cigarette marketing team. Well played.
Now it's on us parents to instill the fear of God into our children that if we catch them making bad choices, there will be consequences. But first let's use the truth ... like you're not allowed to smoke anything while someone else is paying for your health care.
I was so glad that we were watching this story together, so that I could openly voice my opinion in front of everyone.
"This is the stupidest thing I've ever seen!"
I told them all about how cool our grandparents thought they looked with the real thing and now they're all dying of cancer. If you think that inhaling the chemicals in e-cigarettes won't negatively affect your health, then you obviously need to breathe some more oxygen as your brain isn't getting enough.
I worry about my kids when they inhale too much campfire and can't even deal with this right now. I won't even let them drink caffeine because I'm worried it will stunt their growth.
Being the free spirit that I am, I'm less offended by the trying of things and more concerned by the habitual behavior that can emerge, especially if it's borne out of an attempt to look cool. "Love and Logic" parenting classes would suggest using a natural consequence, like maybe me making you look very uncool.
For those parents wondering how you could possibly embarrass your child, I have a list a mile long.
For my kids, don't test me. I have a friend who has already agreed to lend me a dinosaur costume at a moment's notice.
And believe me, embarrassing you is the nicer option. The other is having you volunteer in the cancer center. Nothing like a little grounding.
Here's why I'm being so harsh: Although these e-cigarettes may be "healthier," I believe the chemicals you are inhaling can still cause cancer and the earlier you start, the more susceptible you are because you're damaging developing cells. It's the same reason I regulate what you eat. And just one more way I'm the worst.
I'm so glad we got this talk out of the way.
To summarize: Juuling is dumb, unhealthy and on the list of things I will punish you for.
However, please don't go lecturing random adults about their bad choices and asking them why they want to die, like you already do with anyone you see smoking an actual cigarette.
Jen Reekie was born and raised in Quincy and received a communications degree at the University of Kansas, which has come in quite handy as she communicates every day with four children who don't hear a word she says. This stay-at-home mom enjoys the challenge, though, and shares her experiences in this blog, "Mum's the Word." She welcomes your feedback, questions and stories about staying sane while raising kids.