After every single cheese-covered chip Nikki put into her mouth, she picked up her napkin and delicately wiped her mouth.
There's not much I tell my children that they actually listen to, but when I model good behavior, they tend to notice.
I'm not sure whether that's on purpose or not.
Evidently, Katie never watches me eat. She dipped her chip in gooey cheese, used it like a paintbrush to spread the cheese all around her mouth and then ate it by licking her lips.
When I said, "Katie, wipe you're mouth," she told me, "My tongue will do it, Mom."
Two weeks ago, I made the decision to model better behavior and I pray my children are watching -- or they at least forget the times they saw me setting a very poor example.
As of today, I'm 14 days smoke free. After many years of sucking down 20 cigarettes a day, I've made some notable progress in kicking the habit.
And I give my girls the credit. Although I tried to hide it, the little buggers eventually learned to open doors and caught me. But there were other instances when my addiction drove me to public displays they certainly saw.
It was seeing Nikki holding a straw between two fingers and inhaling deeply that gave me my first jolt. The second came when I told Katie to throw away the stick that was once the base of a sucker. She said, "No," put it between two fingers and said, "I smoke like Mom." Then she blew out an imaginary plume of smoke and grinned.
I'll have conversations with my girls about making tough decisions. We'll talk about drinking and smoking, drugs and sex.
I'll put my 2 cents in and back it up with testimony from experts.
But at the end of the day, chances are a lot higher that children will model the behavior they've been shown than the words they hear.
Parents who are kind contribute to making their children kind.Parents who are civic-minded will instill the importance of community commitment in their children.
And when children see someone smoking, they'll naturally wonder what it's like.
In one of my last acts as a smoker, I took one drastic step. I lit a cigarette, put it in my mouth and then sat my girls in my lap.
My sister snapped the picture.
Each time the urge to smoke hits, I have that picture to look at. It reminds me there are two very good reasons to not pick up a cigarette.
Now, if I can just take on eating right and cut down on the television, they'd be on the right track.
Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or firstname.lastname@example.org.