Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t like it. I’m not all: “You go girl, suck up those carcinogenic chemicals!” The fact is: vaping is unhealthy, addictive, and illegal, and I don’t want my kid to do it. But, I accept that she does.
Had you asked me two years ago if vaping was something I’d allow for my child, I would have said a hard NO. I also didn’t really see my straight-laced kid heading down that path. Besides, asking a parent of a tween if they’ll be letting their kid vape as a teen is sort of like asking a woman during the very early stages of labour, if she’ll be having an epidural or not. You know what I mean? Until you’re in it, like really in it, you have no idea what you’ll do. You don’t know what your reaction will look like. And for me, it’s been to express my disapproval, push her to be good to herself, and keep the lines of communication open.
Last summer, when my daughter first told me she had vaped and who she tried it with, I was surprised. It wasn’t the accomplice I’d have suspected. I, of course, explained the risks. And I told her how angry I feel that she and her friends are being targeted by vape companies; flavours like Cotton Candy, and Sour Skittles aren’t there for the adults! I also told my teen that trying something out is one thing but committing to it, is a whole other story. I informed her that I’d be very disappointed in her (and for her) if it came to that.
I accept that my teen vapes. And, I know she’s done so on more than one occasion. I’m guessing there have been quite a few occasions as she tells me all of her friends do it. She shows me snaps and video footage of her peers exhaling giant vape OOOOs after taking “a hit.” “EVERYONE vapes, Mom,” she tells me. To which I reply, “People who live in a naked commune think everyone is nude.”
“Maybe you need to reconsider who’s in your circle of friends,” I suggested to her, last week. Pretty sure she ignored the hell out of me.
Though maybe this week, she’ll give my words a little more thought. She has been grounded and had her phone, laptop, and her iPod taken away. Reason being: she was caught by the Vice Principal, holding a vape in the girls’ bathroom at school. She was in the loo with her friend, a friend who was in a physical fight at school last month and who lost a chunk of hair and was suspended because of it, I might add. She was in there when she should have been in class. The vape was in my kid’s hand when the VP walked in. After being held in detention, she told the VP she’d been holding it for her friend while she used the bathroom. (Sure Shaggy, it wasn’t you. Right.) It turns out, her friend took full responsibility for it and my daughter was let off with a warning and a call home.
A low moment, indeed. For her and for us, as her parents. But, I know that life lessons often come to us as a result of mistakes. I can certainly attest to that. My grade nine year involved a sixteen-year-old boyfriend who pressured me to have sex with him (I didn’t give in), getting falling down drunk (and barfing all over myself), skipping class (and getting caught by the VP), plus coming home with a hickey on my neck (ew, and yes, I regretted that one immediately).
So, I know this current phase may appear as it did to my own parents back in ’89, like the beginning of the end. But deep down I feel it’s all a part of my daughter’s process in discovering who she wants to be. I decided I didn’t want to be a girl who gets hickeys and has boyfriends who say things like: “if you love me you will.” I also decided that I wanted to do well in school and go to university. So that’s what I did.
I can’t stop my teen from making mistakes. In fact, I don’t want to. She needs to make as many mistakes as necessary to figure out who she wants to be. And she needs to know that she isn’t defined by the mistakes that she does make.
In the meantime, I’ll just be over here saying things like: “I have faith in the person you are and I know you’ll find your way,” then I’ll be leaving the room to hyperventilate into a bag (and no, this isn’t due to lung damage from all the cigarettes I used to smoke).