Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



All of My Friends

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Getting It Right

I come from a long line of non-smokers.
Generations of puff-nots.
But my best friend had a cousin staying over for the summer.
A cousin from the big city who had seen it all.
And done most of it.
I was about to get an education . . .
My family lived on a ranch twenty miles from Milk River, in southern Alberta.
Life out there was bliss.
And, because of a lack of outside influences, completely under the control of my parents.
I had seen people smoking.
Certainly I had.
But I had never considered the possibility of being one of them.
Not even for an instant.
Moving on . . .
My parents owned a house in town.
When Mom got tired of driving the twenty miles to take us kids to school and activities, we would move into town.
Until Dad got tired of driving out to the ranch every day to do ranching stuff.
We would move back.
It was a fun and exciting way to live.
The benefits of town living.
The joys of the ranch.
But one or the other of our houses often sat empty in the interim.
That summer, we were firmly ensconced on the ranch.
So the town house was sitting vacant.
A perfect place for 10-year-old girls to get an education from the 11-year-old-far-more-experienced-world-weary-cousin-from-the-big-city.
My parents had dropped me off at my best friend's house for a--gasp--Once and only.three day sleep over while they went out of town.
We: my BFF, her younger sister and the Cousin (notice the capital letter) had been knocking around town for most of two days.
It had been an education.
It was about to become more so.
The Cousin bought a packet of cigarettes.
She was going to show us country hicks how to smoke.
Okay, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Our biggest problem lay in finding a secret place in which to do our teaching/learning. I mean, there were twelve kids in my BFF's family. Plus the Cousin. Plus me. Her house was out . . .
Idea!
My family's empty town house.
I found the key and let us in.
The place echoed emptily.
Perfect!
We went into the main bathroom and dug out the cigarettes.
Cousin proceeded to light up.
Oooh! She looked so cool!
The rest of us were excited to try.
In no time, we each had a cigarette.
She helped us light them.
Soon, my BFF and her sister were blowing smoke in the most approved manner.
It took me a bit longer.
But I got it, once Cousin pointed out that one needed to suck.
Not blow.
Oh.
I should point out, here that my parents weren't due to pick me up from my BFF's until the following day.
And, even then, they had no reason to come to this house.
Our smoking education could continue apace.
Without threat of interruption.
But parents never do what they say they are going to.
My BFF's little sister went out to the front room.
And immediately returned, wide-eyed.
"Your parents are here!"
"Sure, sure," I said, taking another puff. "Nice try!"
We all laughed.
A sound that broke off instantly when my Mom appeared at the door.
"Oh," I said. "Ummm . . . hi, Mom."
She looked at me. Looked at the cigarette I held in my hand.
Then turned and left.
Without saying a word.
We quickly cleaned up our mess and headed for the front door.
My parents were waiting in the car.
I said some quick good-byes and climbed in.
For several minutes, my parents said nothing.
Finally, Mom turned to Dad and sighed.
Then Dad turned to me and said, "I'm very disappointed, Diane."
I was completely crushed.
He didn't know it, but those four words had just killed my cigarette habit.
Forever.
Parenting done right.

5 comments:

  1. Absolutely done right. I don't know how your parents stayed so controlled, I would have had a fit, but it certainly paid off.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nicely done. Maybe that's why more kids smoke if their parents smoke because, really, the smoking parent can't respond that way. Kids love to call "hypocrite".
    My mom smoked. When I started, what could she say? I finally quit over two years ago. It's been a long journey back to puff not. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Diane! Good for you for taking that lesson to heart. I was actually one of those rare people who liked the taste of cigarettes. My mom and dad were both smokers but they told us we had to wait until we were 18--and I did. But eventually I just couldn't ignore the health issues of what happened from being a smoker. I think it's been 30 years now since I quit and I can't even imagine doing it today. Thanks for the reminder. ~Kathy

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oooo ... your dad had "it", didn't he? The ability to snuff out bad behavior with just his disappointment. That's powerful stuff.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I come from a long line of smokers, generations of them, yet we three kids never ever smoked. Sadly my two sons now do, following their father's footsteps I suppose, in spite of both grandpas dying from lung cancer.

    ReplyDelete

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Diane was born and raised on one of the last of the great old Southern Alberta ranches. A way of life that is fast disappearing now. Through her memories and stories, she keeps it alive. And even, at times, accurate . . .

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