Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Don't tell Mama

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.


Andrew said...

Oh, that is quite thought provoking. My mother always hid her smoking from her parents. I can't recall hiding much from my parents. They always seemed to find out.

Pat said...

I wonder if he really has fooled his parents. Some of us can smell a smoker a mile off and nurses are notoriously difficult to con.

miss diarist said...

I think we must have grown up in the same family, Andrew. My mum still has a sixth sense for when I'm not being truthful.

I don't know, Pat, but he seems to think so. They live interstate so he doesn't see them often and when he does, claimes he doesn't smoke at all. Time will tell - they're staying with him for a week.

Ann ODyne said...

My entire life is a secret from my parents - they never took the slightest interest in anything I did.
Laissez-faire parenting.
I could have preferred my own sex sexually, and would not have had the stress of 'coming out' to them, as they would not have noticed.
I have never smoked, and am amazed that smokers are unaware that they REEK of it even when they are not doing it, so I hope your friend succeeds in quitting.
It's best though, whatever your age, to not tell the parents a damn thing about anything.

Mike and Ann said...

I think Pat is right. His mother particularly will have a pretty good idea that he's a smoker. And anyway, when you think of all the other forms of self abuse he could be indulging in I shouldn't think they'll be too worried about smoking if they're reasonable people. My youngest daughter smokes like the proverbial factory chimney, and I suspect that some of my teenage grandchildren do too, I don't like it much but there comes a point at which you realise that your youngsters are adult people, with their own faults and failings and you have to carry on loving them, faults and all, if you want to continue having any sort of relationship with them. And I do (love them and want to continue having.......).
Warm regards, Mike.

Mike and Ann said...

P.s. By the time they've lived with him for a week whilst he's going cold turkey, they'll be very aware that something's badly amiss anyway

lightning in a bottle said...

up until a couple of years ago, i made sure never to show my tattoo when i was around my mom. (and i had my tattoos for about 16 years now. and the funny thing? even after my 2 brothers and most of my cousins got tattoos and bared it anywhere anytime, i still covered up whenever my mom was around.

i'm sure my brothers and cousins having tattoos "cushioned" the blow for my mom, but there's something in my relationship with her to be the "good" daughter.

miss diarist said...

AoD, the ironic thing is he will take it up again as soon as they're out the door.

Mike, I agree. As much as I'm not a fan of smoking, if that's the worst of his vices then they've done rather well as parents.

Ling, are you the only girl in your family? There can be such pressure! I'm the eldest and in family situations will play the good one (because I should 'know better') whereas my sister will ham it up because 'she's the baby'. ARGH!