I volunteered at the elementary school yesterday. It was fun and in the course of the day I was in contact with literally every child who was present at school.
I had a great time and I love seeing the kids and hearing updates from the ones that I know, picking on 'my' Scouts, talking to the teachers, etc.
At several points I was sad, though. I'm what's been called 'sensitive' to cigarette smoke. My eyes water a LOT, my nose gets really stuffy, my throat gets sore and it affects my voice.
This isn't a huge school by today's standards. I think the last time I heard there were less than 300 kids enrolled. I had probably 10-15 kids come through that just REEKED of cigarette smoke. Like I could smell them before they got to me. Locked your clothes in an ashtray. Slept inside a lit cigarette. Just REEKED. I'm sure it's because the person(s) who smokes probably smokes in the home and their vehicle and I'm not blaming the kids at all, they have no choice. I'm not even ranting on the adults (right now..lol).
Do I wish they'd shield the kids from the smoke? ABSOLUTELY! For their health and for their social well being and so they will have a better chance of not smoking themselves....I could go on.
Here's the thing, though, I know because we've all heard it so often, that it's really hard to quit smoking. It's a battle that person has to fight and want to win. I've never smoked, I'm not going to say I could quit easily.
I'm overweight. It's my own battle and I'm well aware that my body size isn't setting the best example for my kids, either. It's a fight I fight over and over and over again, as do many of us. So. Not lecturing about it today.
By the end of the day I had no voice left. I was trying to whisper loud enough for 15-20 kids (the amount we had in each group for the activity) to hear me. I felt like there was the residue on my skin, on my lips, in my hair. And I was sad that I reacted that badly to KIDS when they were at my station for only 10-15 minutes per group. Normally for me to react that badly I'm locked in a meeting or a car with someone who chain smokes and carries it on their body and clothing.
There were just kids. Elementary kids. Cute, funny, silly as all get out, kids. At one point one little boy asked me why my voice sounded funny (he knows me) and I told him my allergies were acting up.
I had an absolute blast with the kids and I think we made the day special for them and I would (and will) do it again in a heartbeat, but man, do I wish life at home was a bit different for those kids.
Yes, I realize that other kids have even bigger problems at home, please don't lecture me over that. I'm just talking about this one aspect today. :)