by Laurie Bosley, 2003 copyright. All rights reserved.
When Rachel was little, she was a force to be reckoned with. Being the baby of the family, she usually had to stand up for herself and make her opinion known. Otherwise, she’d get pushed into the background. Because of this, she became very outspoken and opinionated at a young age.
Coming from a non-smoking family, Rachel was naturally curious when as a pre-schooler she saw a man in a store one day with a cigarette in his mouth. While watching him, she asked mom and dad rather loudly, “What is that man doing? Why does he have a fire stick in his mouth? Wow! Look, he can blow smoke like a dragon!” After trying unsuccessfully to quiet Rachel down, mom and dad gave up and hurriedly ushered her out of the store.
Rachel, however, wouldn’t be silenced. The whole way out of the store she kept plying mom and dad with questions about smoking. Finally, in the car they explained to her, “Those fire sticks are called cigarettes and even though they are bad for you some people still smoke them.” Perplexed, Rachel launched into her next question, “Why do people smoke if it is bad for them?” Dad answered, “Well honey, sometimes people make bad choices, like smoking cigarettes, and then they get addicted to them and can’t quit. Even though smokers sometimes have trouble breathing and can even die from them, they still can’t quit.” Rachel pressed on, “But why would they want to die?” Mom responded, “They don’t want to die. They just are making an unhealthy choice, like how sometimes you don’t eat your vegetables even though you know they’re good for you.” With the discussion turned around to her, she decided to quit while ahead. Besides she had enough information to satisfy her growing curiosity.
The following week while out one day, Rachel saw someone else smoking. Indignantly, she marched right up to him and started preaching about the dangers of cigarettes. She felt it was her duty to let him know what a costly mistake he was making. The man seemed stunned as he looked down at this little pint sized ball of fire who was pointing her finger at him and saying, “Don’t you know those things can kill you! My mommy and daddy told me that smoking is bad, so why are you smoking?” The man gave a nervous laugh and said, “You’re right kid. They are bad for me, but I’m working on it.”
Satisfied for the time being, Rachel shook her head and marched back over to where mom and dad were standing. Flabbergasted, they quickly apologized to the man and then hurried Rachel in the opposite direction. Quietly but sternly, they explained to her that it is not polite to go up to people and lecture them even if they are doing something which is unhealthy. Rachel never could see the logic in this theory, but realized from the tone of their voices that this was one battle she couldn’t win.
Wisely, after that day she did her best to keep quiet when she saw someone smoking. If she started to open her mouth, mom would silence her by saying, “Don’t even think about it Rachel.” She’d still think about it, and scold that person in her head, but she was smart enough to keep her mouth shut.
In her mind, she’d imagine herself telling people just how harmful smoking could be and help them see the error of their ways. She pictured them throwing their cigarettes down and praising her for her words of wisdom. Rachel could see herself one day changing the world – one less smoker at a time.
As her daydream faded, her real life came back into focus. With a sigh, she realized that before she could tackle the bigger problems in life, she’d probably better learn to handle some of the smaller issues – like learning to tie her shoes, and eating those dreaded vegetables. Maybe saving the world could wait until she was five.