Dear Finn and Alice,

There are times when I worry that I will miss the opportunity to have important life conversations with you. I am not just afraid that I will get caught up in the day-to-day routine and miss the perfect moment, but my biggest fear is this:

I am quickly becoming less and less cool. You two are to blame for this.

And when the time comes to speak with you about not smoking, I will be old and out of touch with your generation, and I will only have this piece of sage advice to give you:

“Don’t do it. Your great-grandfather died from lung cancer because of smoking. If you do, you are grounded. And you will smell bad.”

All of this is true, don’t get me wrong, but there are insights that an experienced young person (such as myself) has that you will not have when you are a teenager and I will not have because I will have forgotten what it is like to be your age. When you read this, realize that it comes from me, when I was still cool and had not yet had the same haircut for twenty years. At this moment, neither one of you have given me any reason not to trust you and neither one of you have broken the law, therefore tarnishing the perfect, innocent image I have of you. Please, take this nugget of wisdom I am imparting to you and just trust me. I am your mother, after all.

Yes, I smoked for many years, which also gives me a little bit of credibility here. Both your father and I know what it is like to be a smoker, and to quit. Do as I say, not as I do.

This is a picture of your mother making a bad decision. No, not dating your father or wearing a puca shell necklace. Smoking, you smart-asses.

Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Become A Smoker.

It is bad for your health. This one is a big, giant “duh,” I know. At your age, you cannot fathom how your choices will affect you in the long-term. No matter what you say, I know that you do not feel that anything bad will ever happen to you. Understand this; bad things can and will happen to you. Do your best to mitigate your risk. You can choose not to smoke! My grandpa died of lung cancer before either of you could remember him, and it is a shame that you might have known what an interesting character he was. If he hadn’t smoked for a bajillion years, you might have gotten to know him. I am not sugar-coating this one: SMOKING WILL FUCKING KILL YOU. (Yes, your mother is swearing, a bad habit I soon hope to break.)

Also, I did not spend a year breastfeeding both of you, then ten more years of making sure that you ate the healthiest, least processed foods that money can buy only for you to poison your little lungs with tar and nicotine. I sacrificed my cute, perky boobs for you to be healthy. Don’t shit on that by lighting up. Please??

It is not cool. I started smoking when I was sixteen because I thought it was cool. But, here is the kicker, my bambinos – that is not what I thought at the time. I thought I was being grown up, and doing something that would make me interesting to everyone else. I also thought I was doing something bad (which was neat), but not bad enough that I would ever get into real trouble. (Truth be told, I didn’t ever get into real trouble; not the point.) Looking back on it, I started because I wanted to be cool. I wanted to do something that made me stand out in a crowd, to be noticed by the popular kids. To be different. To be so cool. Understand this; smoking never made me popular. No one ever thought “Ooh, I would be friends with that Lisa girl, but she doesn’t smoke. What a loser.” I’m sorry to say this; but smoking makes you look insecure, and like you are not very well-to-do. I’m judging, but that is what everyone else will be thinking about you if they see you smoking as a young adult. Get a little bit older, and everyone will be thinking that you are a poor person who doesn’t give a shit about their skin or teeth. And that you live in your mom’s basement. And drive a P.O.S. Chevy Cavalier. (Okay, maybe that is just what I think.)

If someone offers you a cigarette, just politely decline. If they persist, tell them you think it is gross. If they still push, give them a nice, hard smack. Then tell them they are a fucking loser. You have my permission.

It is expensive. When I started smoking, a pack of cigarettes cost about $2.35. Now, they are up over six or seven dollars. More than that in New York. At our peak, Dad and I were smoking a pack a day between the two of us. At that time, they were about $5.50 a pack. That is over TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS A YEAR. Finn; that is a lot of video games. Alice; that is a lot of shoes. Two grand might not sound like a lot to you now, but at the time, we could have bought a cheap car, or gone on an extra vacation with that cash. If we were really smart, we would have been dumping that money into a 401(K). That would never have happened, but we would have been better off going on another cruise than lighting that money on fire. We probably spent fifteen or twenty thousand dollars on cigarettes over the time we smoked. That makes me wanna barf.

It is soooo gross. Realize this; you are inhaling burning tar. There isn’t any other way around that. And probably a lot of other really shitty chemicals that you did not need to be putting into your body. Your skin will not be as bright and healthy, your teeth will turn yellow. Your hands will also turn yellow. And other people will think you look gross, too. And assume that you drive a P.O.S. Chevy Cavalier. Oh wait, I think I already said that.

You will smell bad. No matter how much cologne or perfume you wear, you will still smell like an ashtray. You might not think you smell, but you will to everyone else.

Your father and I will be disappointed in you. I’m not sure if that holds any sway when someone is asking you if you want a cigarette, but please realize that we only want the best for you. We love you, and don’t want you to do anything that would harm you or get you into trouble.

ALSO, Don’t think I’m stupid.

If you do decide to smoke, I will know. No amount of air freshener or showers, or anything else will hide it. Realize I am a lot smarter than you think I am, and I know all the tricks; none of which fooled your grandparents, either. Once you are legally old enough to smoke, then it is your choice. I’m not saying to flaunt it around me, but show me enough respect not to lie about it. Do not smoke around me. I don’t want to smell like crap. That is your decision, not mine. But pay attention to this: if you smoke in my car, I will know, and you will be in for a world of hurt. TRUST ME.

Please, please do not smoke. We love you, and want the best for you.

And… Just don’t do it. Your great-grandfather died from lung cancer because of smoking. If you do, you are grounded. And you will smell bad.

Love always,