Today, as we’re leaving the soccer field, he asks if he can play at the skate park on the way home. He asks this most days after soccer practice and I always say no. Sometimes we’re in a rush to get somewhere. Usually we’re hungry, and generally there are a slew of tweenish and teenish boys and their female hangers-on doing cool tricks, smoking, and proving that they’re hardcore by dropping f-bombs as frequently as possible.
*Disclaimer – I am sure there are other lovely young people at the park skating, humming Taylor Swift songs, and saying things like “gosh” and “shucks,” and shunning all legal addictive substances, but they just don’t pick up as loudly on my Parental Freakout Meter. I’m sure YOUR kid, if he were hanging out at the skate park, is the Taylor Swiftiest and I’m not accusing you of raising a ruffian. I am accusing the other parents… who are not you. Please don’t email me about this, Citizens of My Town, USA.*
So, Magoo asks why he can’t hang out there and I say that it’s because there are bigger kids smoking and swearing and it’s not a great environment for him. And then he starts asking questions about smoking and addiction and cancer and all things cigarette-related that I’ve ever told him to scare him from ever ever putting a burning bundle of who-knows-what into his mouth and inhaling.
And then he says, “Can, you know, like, beautiful people smoke?” He’s sort of hemming and hawing. “Like, you know, beaut… Like if there was a beautiful…” Here he sort of trails off, gathering his thoughts and starts again.
“Monday at the fair I saw a woman who looked just like you and she was smoking and I was confused because I didn’t think that people who looked like you could smoke.”
I was quiet, trying not to choke up. So, when my eight-year-old boy thinks of what a beautiful woman looks like, he pictures me? I’ve heard stories where old men talked about their beautiful angel mothers and I think it’s sweet but I always thought they had to be old and looking back in retrospect to see their mother that way.
I’m not the hottest chick on the block. Rarely do random men flirt with or even really give me the time of day. I think what’s beautiful to Magoo and what’s beautiful to me about this story is that he knows I love him and that there’s a light in my eyes for him and that I’m trying to be the best that I can be most of the time. Beauty to Magoo is an effort towards goodness and that makes me so proud.
Of course I could not mention this to him. I had to ignore the accidental compliment, act cool, and tell him that, yes, beautiful people can smoke, but that over time it tends to make them less beautiful and more enslaved to addiction and disease.
And then I walked with an extra bounce in my step the rest of the night. That’s what beautiful people do, when they are not busy smoking.