I'll give you something to really cry about!

What do you do when your parents disobey you?

I may not have children, but I do have one troublesome mother and a very stubborn father who won’t listen to me. I don’t know how real parents do it. You know what’s best for them, but they refuse to heed your words of wisdom. You tell them something, and it goes in one ear and out the other.

The constant worrying has made me gray before my time. Or it could just be my parents’ genes. Yet another reason to be frustrated with them.

I’ve heard there was a time when smoking was considered cool and sophisticated. (See Mad Men.) It was even recommended for some medical conditions. (See The King’s Speech.) But Lionel Logue was onto something when he told King George that perhaps the cigarettes weren’t doing him any good, and as history has born out, we all now know that smoking is actually very, very, very bad for you. So of course all the cool parents want to do it.

In some regards, I can’t blame my mother. She’s from Europe. Anyone who has stepped foot on the European continent knows that the entire place is covered in a fog of cigarette smoke. Okay, that may not be true, but I’m willing to look a blind eye to anyone with a foreign passport. Like a passport, though, your excuse expires in exactly 10 years. My mom’s passport expired in 1965.

My dad on the other hand… He was born and bred in the heartland of America. Though I realize that plenty of people from his generation lit up like chimneystacks back in the day, the evidence was clear even during his youth that smoking can kill. And regardless of whether he chose to read the news, I was more than happy to keep him abreast of the latest medical findings.

As a kid, I launched my own anti-smoking campaign. I hated my dad’s cigars and made sure he knew it. Once while in a particularly defiant mood, I took his brand new box of White Owls and broke every single one of them in half. Needless to say, he was not pleased when he came home from work that evening, looking only to relax with a smooth smoke. I took his fury as a sign of victory. Pretty sure he just went out and bought another box later that night.

In its own weird way, my parents’ smoking devotion has had two beneficial effects: both my sister and I have never touched a cigarette. Actually, I can’t totally vouch for my big sister. I do vaguely remember a rebellious phase during her teen years that may have resulted in a puff or two. I, however, never had a rebellious phase. Quitting Latin during my last semester of high school was about as insubordinate as I ever became. And to this very day, never once has it crossed my mind to pick up a cigarette. (Though I do sometimes regret giving up Latin.) So in this respect, you might say that my parents are devious masterminds at getting their children to behave.

They refuse to do the same.

Despite bouts of pneumonia and high blood pressure and heart attacks and take your pick of any other ailment, they are steadfast in their smoking ways. It’s beginning to tick me off. Regardless of whether a child is 5, 25, or 50, she wants her parents. Age does not diminish the love you have for your family. The older you become, the more awesome things you get to experience. The more you experience, the more you would like your parents to be around to celebrate those moments with you.

Even though I’m not a parent, I’m trying to think like one. What exactly do you do with a disobedient mom and dad? If the roles were reversed – and I was 20 years younger – they would have the option to send me off to boarding school. So it looks like I have only one choice… Either my parents shape up, or I’m shipping them off to a nursing home. I hear they know exactly what to do with unruly seniors.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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