Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Don't Stop

"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


TangledLou said...

Oh man, I do this kind of stuff all the time. The playing in the sink is a big one - I have tangible pangs of guilt, but they have so much fun! I want to raise my kids to be conscious of their environmental impact, but at the same time I don't want to raise them to be sanctimonious sticks in the mud. A big one for me is that both of my kids will pick up litter while we're out and try to throw it away. I really appreciate the sentiment, but my mother brain screams "YOU DON'T KNOW WHERE THAT'S BEEN! DON'T TOUCH IT!"

Lucinda said...

I think there is always a disconnect between what we would like to do and what we are able to do in regards to the environment or any other good intentions we have. For me, my health frequently gets in the way of what I would like to do, like walking my kids to school instead of driving them, or composting all the vegetables instead of dumping them in the garbage disposal. But we do our best and even one thing makes a difference. If everyone did even just one thing, it would help.

Joanne said...

Hi Luncinda. Thanks for your comment. Agreed. We can only do as much as we can do and as the title of your blog suggests, "it's all relative."
I am able to let go of the things I can't do but it's hard not to feel some guilt over the things I feel most strongly about.
And TangledLou - my eldest son once tried picking up a condom from the library parking lot when he was in his pick-up-all-the-litter-and-throw-it-away stage. I yelled so loudly for him to stop that he started crying.