Every Tuesday, my class has their D.A.R.E. Officer come and talk to them. If you did not do D.A.R.E. in 5th or 6th grade, I am very sorry. It was one of my favorite things. I still remember Officer Edwards...I won the essay contest and he gave me the stuffed lion, I was stoked. I wonder where that is..? Anyway, it stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education. IT is a police officer-led series of classroom lessons that teaches children from kindergarten through 12th grade how to resist peer pressure and live productive drug and violence-free lives. (I just stole that from their website...)
Anyway, Mrs. I got out a little box with paper in it that the kids can write questions on and the DARE officer will answer them when he comes. I read through them before hand just to make sure they are appropriate questions. Most commonly you will find, "Have you ever arrested someone and been shot at?" or "How many gangs do you break up and take to jail?"
Because you always break up an entire gang at the same time and haul them all to the big house...ESPECIALLY in Utah. Good children.
Today I was reading through the questions and found one that read, "If my parents smoke in the garage when it is closed and then I go out their later and accidentally breathe in the smoke because I can't hold my breath long enough, can I still get cancer? I try really hard to make them smoke all the way outside, but they won't. They sometimes smoke in the house too. --Please don't read out loud."
My heart broke. Here is this little girl, that is as tender as can be. Whose mom and step dad are heavy chain smokers and who knows what else. She is frequently with her dad and step mom and they are the rock in her life, but custody rights demand she spends so much time a month with her mom.
Now, we all know that just inhaling the remnant of a cigarette smoked should not, under typical circumstances give you cancer, but you remember the huge emphasis placed on second hand smoke and the harmful effects that it can have. She is more than concerned about that and the fact that she has to hold her breath in her own house.
Are there a lot of kids like this? Yes. I am surrounded by them at my school as I can smell smoke on a lot of their clothes as I get on their level to answer questions. But the last few weeks have just really given me cause to reflect on the life that I was provided with because of the good choices that my mom and dad were constantly making. I am so grateful that I had my mom to come to my parent teacher conference and the maturation program with me (super funny story about that to come!) I am so grateful, that even though she was always half an hour late picking me up from after school choir, that she was there. I knew she was coming and not off partying and drinking with her friends. I have lots to be grateful for. I am learning more and more everyday about how I have had quite the fairytale life...and I am trying everyday to not take it for granted!