A few weeks ago I had to explain to Bud what the cigarette lighter in our GL is used for. It is situated between the two front seats in a fun drawer at hand level, so it’s readily available to curious front passenger hands. In our Sienna the lighter is in the ashtray because I always had my iPod charger in the lighter outlet. Furthermore, the lighter is below the stereo on the driver’s side, so it’s not easily accessible to curious hands.

Yesterday Junior was in the front passenger seat of the GL while I was ordering food at the Wendy’s drive-thru. I heard a pained cry from Junior and turned to see smoke rising around him, and I smelled something burning. It was flesh. Junior had been playing with the lighter. He didn’t realize that when he pushed it in the outlet, it becomes very hot. So after the lighter popped out he pulled it out of the outlet and pushed on the button, branding his middle finger on the other hand.

I couldn’t understand why Junior didn’t know what the lighter was, and why I had to explain it to Bud earlier. A friend was in the GL with us and leaned forward to hear my explanation to Junior what the lighter is used for. He didn’t know either. These are all teenage boys.

Why do Mister and I know what the auto cigarette lighter is used for, but our children had no idea? Neither of our parents smoked, none of our childhood friend’s parents smoked. So why was it common knowledge to us? We have both just always known what auto cigarette lighters are used for.

I think that it is because our children have grown up in a generally smoke-free society. They were all babies when states started adopting stringent smoking bans, and Hollywood was told that they were not to portray people smoking in movies or on television shows. Smoking commercials were non-existent by then. So not only have they grown up around adults who don’t smoke, but they have grown up in a society that is virtually smoke-free in public.

I’m sure that Mister and I, and other children of our generation, saw an auto cigarette lighter used, if not by someone personally then on a commercial, in a movie, or on a television show. It actually cracks me up about what our children are naive about in this day and age. It used to be that our parents were considered naive and innocent and we teenagers were saavy to the ways of the wild world. Today, it can definitely be the other way around.


  1. How is Junior’s finger? What a way to learn a lesson! That story makes me laugh – I’m sure my kids don’t know what one is either, I’ll be sure to address that.

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