"Mom! He's putting those peels in the trash!"
I look and it's true. C was peeling a tangerine and his four-year-old brother was dutifully taking the peels and putting them in the trash bucket.
My older son was not, as you may think, praising his younger brother for his helpfulness, he was in fact pointing out his faux pas. Tangerine peels belong in the compost bucket, not in the trash.
I asses the situation. Yes. It's true. But for my preschooler, the compost bucket is up on the counter and out of reach, while the trash can is close at hand. Given the choice between having a helpful, if somewhat misguided, four year old or having to deal with the mess myself, I choose to let the transgression pass.
How often are other parents faced with similar dilemmas?
As parents we want to save the world for our children, but sometimes they don't make it easy.
There's the obvious problem of children: all the stuff they come with and accumulate, from diapers and wipes to the collection of plastic crap handed out at birthday parties, all the way up to the e-trash they will presumably leave in their wake as teens when they begin moving fluidly from one techno gadget to another.
Those environmental infractions aside, what I'm thinking about are the lapses I condone and even sometimes instigate myself, like driving over-tired toddlers around and around the block in hopes that they will fall asleep before the car runs out of gas.
Or, as someone who goes so far as to stick a bucket in the sink when washing vegetables and saving the water for the house plants, how do I justify letting my twins play in the bathroom sink, filling and emptying it over and over on a cold, January day?
Then there's the illusion that leads you to believe your kids will embrace a tiny LED night light in their bedroom but they want the big guns - the closet light - on all night. At least you've installed CFLs.
In these situations it's plain that the possibility of some quiet mommy time is more valuable than wasting a little non-renewable petroleum or even gallon after gallon of perfectly good drinking water.
What's more, I could lure the twins out of the bathroom and away from the running water by offering up a DVD. Given the option though I'd prefer to have them actively, rather than passively, engaged, even if what they're actively engaged in is wasting water. What this confession reveals is that I'm guilty of caring more about the cognitive development of my kids than about saving precious natural resources.
Yes, in the case of the faucet example I could just stick them in the bath tub which would, in the long run, waste less water but often there's a time constraint as in not enough time for a tubby before heading out to the bus stop to meet older siblings. At least most days we walk to the bus stop.
Is Mommy's sanity worth more than the health of the environment? There's the old saying that if Mommy's not happy, nobody's happy, and I suppose if I'm not catching a break here and there I'll be too mentally exhausted to dry our laundry on the clothes line or tend my plot at the community garden.
How about you? What environmental infractions do you allow your kids to partake of in the name of sanity or getting dinner (vegetarian I'm sure) cooked.
song: Don't Stop • artist: Fleetwood Mac
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