How many of you have secrets from your parents?
Not the I'm-an-adult-film-star or I-have-3-husbands type. I mean the ones that seem little yet somehow turn us into sneaky teenagers when we think other people may find out. Things like hoeing into a giant jar of nutella or making so much noise the neighbours complain. Things that we likely got into trouble for as kids and for whatever reason, have never progressed past.
I don't claim to be all that well-adjusted but truth be told I've never really kept any secrets from my parents. Which is why it surprised me when a friend of mine, Blake, announced that as of Friday he's going off the gaspers - cold turkey style. He'd also really appreciate it if we didn't make any reference to his smoking for the next week.
Why? The parents are coming to town.
This made me laugh out loud. Blake is a 37 year old man and perfectly capable of making - and living with - his own choices. He has a successful career, a flat and a broad circle of friends. He knows the dangers that smoking carries and has made an informed decision to continue doing so. And yet his parents can't know?
It seems he told the olds he'd quit several years ago and now can't bring himself to admit that he's relapsed. When I pressed him as for why, he said he simply couldn't bear to disappoint them, particularly with a nurse for a Mum and a reformed (and now vehemently anti-) smoker Dad.
Despite what Blake says, I can't help but wonder if the choice not to tell them is more for himself than his parents. They might be unhappy initially but I'm sure they would get past it. In the scheme of things, the fact that their son is a smoker probably won't matter too much to them.
Yet the weight of their disappointment is something Blake doesn't want to bear. And I can't blame him. The most devastating thing my parents could say to me when I was small wasn't that they were angry; it was that they were disappointed in me.
No matter how old you are, I don't think it ever gets easier to stomach.