What Had I Done

By: scubaman
My daughter was four years old and riding in the front seat of the car. She was a year out from having to ride in a car seat in the back and was still enjoying her big girl status. When she first started riding up front, we had several minor battles about the seatbelt. She just did not like it. I insisted that she always wear it. It was a safety thing I stressed, just like not talking to strangers. She liked to take her seat belt off or even crawl in the back seat. She thought the inside of the car was her playground. It had been about a month with no seat belt incident so I was hopeful that she was finally accepting the seat belt rule without fussing.

As I drove down the freeway we hit a bit of traffic. It was getting close to rush hour. I lit a cigarette and rolled down the window to let the smoke out of the car. Traffic stopped and started and I continued to smoke while waiting for traffic to make up its mind fast or slow.

Finally we began to move faster and we were back up to the speed limit. I tossed the cigarette out the window as we sped up and rolled up the window.

Soon I knew something was wrong. I glanced in the back seat and there was the cigarette, slowly burning a whole in the fabric. I could not pull the car over on the freeway so I unbuckled my daughters seat belt and ordered her to break the rule, to climb in the back seat, touch a hot cigarette carefully, and throw it out the window. She was so confused by this, she cried, told me she was not supposed to move and tried to put her seat belt back on. The hole in the backseat was growing and I was starting to see more smoke. I scared her and told her the car would be on fire if she did not do this for me. Slowly she crawled in the back seat, but then was terrified of picking up the cigarette. She was convinced it would burn her. She remembered I had told her to never touch anything hot. Finally her fear of the car burning and my yelling overcame her fear of touching the cigarette and she picked it up and was able to toss it out the window.

A lot more damage was done that day than the physical damage to the back seat of the car.

Stop smoking.
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