The mother of the Internet's "Smoking Baby" said she is going to try to distract her son away from cigarettes.
Seto Mulyadi, chairman of Indonesia's National Commission for Child Protection, met the Indonesian mother, Diana, the other day at the Jakarta Airport. An interviewer with CNN caught up with Diana and her son, Aldi, whose 40-a-day habit turned him into an Internet sensation last week.
It's good news that the boy is getting help. With the viral nature of that video, I knew it was a matter of time before someone stepped in. But I'm distressed the reason Diana wants to get her two year old to quit is more because of the expense than an acknowledgement of the health risks. Smoking, even among the very young, is ingrained in the culture. It costs the family $4 a day to provide him cigarettes.
Diana doesn't like or really understand the attention her family and son are getting, but she did share some of her parental challenges.
"Well, I don't want to give him cigarettes, but what I am I supposed to do? I am confused. I didn't let him smoke, I even forbade him from smoking, but I was trying to stop him from getting sick."
She showed CNN a scar on Aldi's head, where she said he smashed his head into a wall during one of his tantrums. She said he also vomits when he can't satisfy his addiction.
Aldi is not alone. Lots of young children in Indonesia smoke, and officials believe they are starting younger and younger. Te NCCP has intervened when possible. According to CNN, a study by the child protection commission shows that between 2001 and 2007, the number of children smoking between the ages of five and nine jumped 400 percent. That is tens of thousands of cases and does not take into account children like Aldi, who are under the age of five.
Distracting a toddler is difficult. Distracting an addicted toddler might border on the impossible. For Aldi's sake, I wish Diana lots of patience and ear plugs.