Sometimes I question my own parenting skills. My kids will say or do something and I think, “Holy shit. I think I really messed this one up.” My only hope is that since the kids are still so young, with the oldest being under age six, that when there is a clear parental fail, I can still remedy the situation.
Much of my parenting style comes from hoping that my kids will learn by example. Now, perhaps I don’t want them to follow my lead in every situation, but certainly I try to teach my kids a number of important lessons by doing them myself. For example, we donate food, clothing, old toys and money to various organizations that support our local poor families. Joey has also now donated about a dozen new children’s books to his school library, and we have donated to support our troops and state and local police agencies. I wish we could give more often, but when we are able to give we try to involve the kids and have them understand what we are giving, who we are giving to, and why it’s important to help.
We’re also in the process of becoming a greener family, but I’m no Mother Earth by any stretch of the imagination. But just like everything else, we’re trying to lead by example. So even if the kids seem to young to fully understand, I try to explain why we try to conserve water and electricity and why we (pay) to recycle.
Jake was more interested in going to the store to pick out some candy a couple weeks ago, then trying to make it home from preschool before the recycle truck got to our house.
Me: Listen, Jake. I forgot to put the can out, which by the way is full, and I have a ton of boxes to put out too. We need to get this stuff out since they only pick up the recycling once every two weeks. It’s really piling up. You can come with me to the store later this afternoon.
Jake: I hate cycling …I think we should throw our trash where ever we want. *huge sulking scowl*
Me: Well, Jake if we threw our trash where ever we wanted and never tried to reuse our old stuff, there would be trash everywhere and the Earth would get really sick. And you know what? We’d all get really sick too.
Jake: (Pauses for a moment) Well, if our Erff (Earth) got really sick, I would get our stuff and blast off in a rocket to a new house on a different Erff.
Me: No more “Wall-E” for you.
I went on to have a very unsuccessful conversation with Jake about how this “Erff” was the only planet capable of sustaining human life in this solar system which didn’t hit home with my three and a half year old. Although slightly entertaining, as are most conversations with Jake, I was a bit bothered by his responses too. I’m not as earth friendly as I should be, but I’m also not throwing my trash around and actually hate when I see people litter.
So perhaps then, over the last two weeks, I’ve been pushing the message of going green and earth conservation a bit harder on my kids, working it in a bit more than normal. I probably sounded like a freaking hippie, but I was relived that Jake didn’t have any more off the wall ideas about how we should handle our trash. Apparently, Joey was not only listening but really took the message to heart.
Joey has no shame. I had read the kids their stories tonight and tucked them all in bed. Hearing movement, I got up just in time to find Joey in the bathroom, door wide open, wiping his rear.
Me: Are you okay, Joey?
Joey: Sure, Mom. Just a regular poop. I had to go for a while but I was busy playing Super Mario Brothers.
Me: Great, hurry up and get back in bed. Make sure you flush and wash your hands.
Joey: Yeah, yeah.
Just as I turn to go back to my room, I catch a glimpse of Joey folding the toilet paper he just used to wipe his ass and then he wiped it again. He then quickly folds it a third time and wipes yet again. It appeared to be less than two squares to begin with…the kid surely has poop-hands now.
Me: Joey! What are you doing??
Joey: (Heavy sigh) I’m still wiping, Mom!
Me: Well, use another piece of toilet paper! That one is too small and you’re getting poop on your hands!
Joey: Mom! I don’t want to waste the toilet paper. I’m conserving.
Me: (said to myself as I retreated back to bed) Holy shit, I just can’t win.