At Home with the Eco-Police

by Abby on April 20, 2012

FOUR WHOLE DAYS. That’s how long I was cooped up in the house with 2 sick kids this week. Being stuck at home with small children for days on end with no adult contact is a special brand of hell that should be reserved for people who spit out gum on sidewalks and hog handicapped parking spots with their Hummers.

One day started with an asthma attack at 5am followed by a diaper blowout of epic proportions at 5:20am. I cut my losses and threw those PJs away. Any day when you’ve run out of wipes and things to do before 8am? Is gonna be a grueling day.

Baking, board games, and craft projects are my usual time-killers, but even those weren’t cutting it by the time 4pm rolled around. So I said, “Hey, kids, how about we hop in the car and go for a drive?”

“To where?” asked my 5yo, barely stirring from the couch.

“Nowhere, just a drive. We could maybe go out to a farm, see some horses…” And if by some miracle the state of Maryland has legalized drive-thru liquor stores and we happen across one…

“Mommy, you can’t just drive around for no reason,” said Miles. “It’s bad for the earth.” The “duh” was implied.

Who knew I had the eco-police right here in Cars pajamas under my own roof?

Seriously, though, I’m glad they’re hitting the Earth Day curriculum hard in kindergarten. Maybe he won’t grow up to be the kind of guy who leaves the hot water running full blast the ENTIRE TIME he’s shaving, like some people I know.

In my family growing up, we were either eco-conscious or cheap, I can’t decide which. Maybe a little of both, since I spent my early years living in faculty housing on a college campus in the ‘70s.

We had one car, and my dad could walk across the street to work. My mom sewed quilts and clothes and carried reusable canvas tote bags before they were cool. She also rinsed out and reused Ziploc bags and still carries a clean cotton dishtowel on her person at all times. Whereas some people go through a box of wipes a week…

When I was a teenager, my dad enforced 10-minute showers with a kitchen timer. Again, not sure if he was motivated by Mother Earth or the water bill. But does it really matter? As a parent myself now, and as a person forced to pay $4/gallon at the gas pump, I can appreciate any attempts to cut down and cut back.

Love Your Mother...EarthSo I don’t get rankled when my kid lectures me, “Mom, don’t leave the car running when you go pick up Riley. You don’t want to be an Earth-Warmer.” He’s right, you know. Idling for 10 seconds or longer burns more gas than restarting the engine, according to the Environmental Defense Fund.

Happy Earth Day!

READ O’ THE DAY: Most of us are drowning in too much stuff. An excerpt of Anna Quindlen’s new book in the April 22 Parade magazine asks, when is enough enough, and how do you get rid of the rest?

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