Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Praying.

Religion doesn't figure strongly in my life. I stopped praying on a daily basis when I was about 12 because I realized that no amount of praying was going to stop my father from smoking his lungs out at the time. Back in the mid-80's when I was old enough to think for myself, public service announcement ads about lung cancer and the adverse effects of smoking were everywhere. Those were the days when Dunhill, Peter Stuyvesant and other lifestyle brands were still advertising on tv and sponsoring sporting events like the World Cup football and Badminton matches.

Anyway, I was always a sensitive child growing up and seeing pictures of deteriorating and cancerous lungs on billboards and posters everywhere scared the shit out of me. It always triggered the picture of my father puffing away on his cigarrete and looking deep in thought. My father had been smoking since his teens so it wasn't hard to realize that after all those years of puffing away, his lungs were probably well on their way to looking like those deteriorated lungs on the billboards I had been seeing around town.

Since praying didn't help I tried pleading with my father to stop. That was a difficult task because he usually just brushed me aside and told me not to bother him. His argument was that smoking was all he had to calm him down from his work related stress. Those days no one went outside to smoke. They just smoked right there in front of their wives, kids and toddlers. Second hand smoke didn't seem to bother anyone back then.

I was never close to my father and was sent to boarding school in my early teens so I stopped giving a shit about something I had no control over. It must have been annoying to him having a little kid preaching anyway.

My father did quit smoking about 15 years after I stopping pleading with him. By then I was in my late twenties and he was already in his fifties. Better late than never. He did it of his own accord. My mom couldn't persuade him to quit either all those years ago. The only thing that eventually stopped him was the incessant coughing that was keeping him up nights. Luckily it was nothing worse than that. In hindsight if smoking was his worse vice then I should feel lucky. It could have been a lot worse. No raging alcoholics in my family fortunately.

Nowadays I am not bothered by strangers or friends smoking around me. It's their choice. Personally I am used to second-hand smoke and am immune to it. However, when I see a person blatantly smoking in front of my little child and subjecting him to second hand smoke, that is when I draw the line. That is when I am willing to kick that person's ass down the street. However, I need to set a good example for my boy so I am forced to take a deep breath - full of smoke mind you - and walk away while quietly wishing that person gets cancer and drops dead for their lack of consideration. These days more often than not it is a woman doing the smoking, ironic as it may seem. Or maybe not.

My son is 9 weeks old now and it's fun trying to understand all the grunts and noises he makes. They all mean something. You have to try to comprehend what he is trying to tell you early on. Only then will he be happy. Good news is that he is smiling more these day and even laughs when you try to amuse him. That is the result of us paying attention to him to see what he wants. I'd like to think I can tell when he's bored, hungry, uncomfortable or simply needs a nappy change just by the sound he makes. Of course I could be wrong most of the time. My boy and I are still getting to know each other so it will take some time for us to get on the same wavelength. I need to learn his language before he can learn mine.

I have started to pray again but I have yet to learn how to "pray" properly. I never ask for anything because that is not how it works. Being thankful for what I have and saying a few words is all I do. I am just grateful that I have yet to screw things up too badly. God knows it is very easy to screw things up if you don't watch it.

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