When my sister and I were young we were horrified at the lengths to which my Mom would go in the name of conservation. (We were also horrified that our manners and grammar were corrected on a regular basis and now neither of us can stand it when people use poor grammar or display a lack of manners). We told my Mom she was just being cheap. We told her all the other Mom’s would never dream of making their kids bring home their “perfectly good” brown lunch bags from school and then reusing them until they were so worn the weight of a sandwich would rip through the bag at the bus stop, usually in front of the cute boy we wanted to impress. I realize now after all of our moaning and groaning that I am (oh, the horror!) exactly like my Mom. Here are some of the things she did – and our reactions as bratty kids:
- Mom Said: It’s a beautiful day. Let’s take a walk on the Fort Hill Trail
- We Responded: Ugh, not another forced nature walk. I hate going on walks. I hate the Fort Hill Trail. I hate nature. I hate being outside. It’s cold and it’s going to rain. I’m not going.
- Mom Said: Let’s keep the thermostat at 65 degrees
- We Responded: (We would dramatize our response by wearing gloves and a hat indoors). Our hands are too cold to do our homework. We can’t even hold our pencils! (We would secretly turn up the heat when my Mom wasn’t home).
- Mom Said: What do you mean my sweater isn’t acceptable? It’s perfectly serviceable
- We Responded: Mom, you are such a DORK! That sweater is older than we are. That sweater is so bad even Bill Cosby wouldn’t wear it. (Later my sister would dub my Mom, the Polyester Professor, because of her propensity for wrinkle free fabrics)
- Mom Said: You have to stop drinking all that diet soda. I think that’s why you’re getting so many headaches.
- My Response: Mom, that is the dumbest thing I ever heard! (It turns out that Nutra Sweet, was, in fact, the culprit for my monster headaches in high school. To this day I can’t drink or eat it without getting a headache. Worse, I now lecture everyone else on the health effects of Nutra Sweet! I annoy myself!)
- Mom Said: Let’s make a compost heap in the backyard
- Our Response? To this day, we still remind her how her composting experiment drew the ire of neighbors and a visit from the Department of Health because it attracted rats. (For rat free compost tips go here). Now I’m the one composting and my Mom is saying it attracts rats!
If I call my sister, I could probably come up with many more examples. We wanted to be the cool kids. The parents of cool kids let their kids eat sugar cereal and potato chips, drink soda, wear the latest fashions, have all the best new toys and carry a new brown lunch bag to school every day. They probably even got to run the dishwasher and laundry when they were half full, instead of loaded to the gills. By comparison, we were dorky, because our dorky German Mom insisted on not being wasteful.
The bottom line is that even if your kids whine, moan, complain, argue, cajole, and manipulate, the best thing you can do as parents is to lead by example. If you believe what you’re doing is right, your kids will too (some day). That’s what my Mom did and eventually, it sank in.
Mom Said: Please bring home