Welcome to the March Carnival of Natural Parenting: Vintage green!

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This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month we’re writing about being green — both how green we were when we were young and how green our kids are today. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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Helping my dad plant his vegetable garden last year.

I always thought I made my parents the eco-minded folks that they are today because when I first became interested in environmental issues as a teenager I got everyone to start composting. Because composting was the epitome of “green” to me back then I suppose. What I failed to notice, however, was that we were already pretty green. We were already recycling, my parents and grandparents kept vegetable gardens, and we ate mostly organic produce (my mom pointed this out after reading my post about how and why I became vegetarian). I failed to piece together that keeping the house at 63 degrees (too cold by the way) was good for keeping electric bills low and thus good for our carbon footprint. Not that we knew what that was back then. I suppose that’s the world of a child though right? My daughter comes and shows me, “this is how to spell my name you know,” completely forgetting that I am the one who taught her. I say, “Oh, really? Wow! You’re right!” In her mind she thinks she just taught me something. I thought I taught my parents how to be green, but in retrospect, they taught me.

However, back then we didn’t necessarily practice green living for the same reasons we do now.

For instance, my grandparents used to have a compost bin. My grandma and grandpa used to compost lawn and garden scraps as well as veggies and fruit scraps. Then they used the compost on their vegetable garden. Maybe store-bought compost hadn’t been invented yet. I don’t know. When I got interested in the environment at age 16, my grandparents had just stopped composting because they had stopped keeping a vegetable garden. I tried to get them to start composting again, to save on wasting garbage, but their excuses were that it was a long walk to the end of the yard and since there was no garden there was no need. Plus, they weren’t aware of the environmental impact of excess garbage and I was too young and unsure to teach them. It wasn’t a widely broadcast issue in the early 1990′s. Plus, they were just starting to feel their age. Instead, I ended up getting my mom and step-dad to start composting, and to this day, although now divorced, they both still do! Now if only I had seen their willingness as a growth of their already innate values.

Another thing that was a part of my life growing up was playing outside. We didn’t get a TV until I was 5 or 6, and when we did get one we only had two channels. Since there weren’t many kid-friendly TV shows on only two channels in the early 1980′s (except the Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday nights at 7:00 – anyone else remember watching those?) I spent most of my days outside mucking about. I climbed trees, built forts (sometimes just with my imagination as in “this looks like a good fort!”), raced and chased with my brother and friends, played “house” down at the creek, made up stories, wrote songs, put on dances and fun fairs for the neighbours, and made mud pies out of flour and dirt and baked it in the sun in an old cake tin. I also went for horse rides. My friend Jen had two horses and although I didn’t really know how to ride, the two of us would go off, unaccompanied by an adult, riding through the neighbourhood, down the logging roads, and through nearby forest. Once we even rode the horses through town and went through the drive-thru at Dairy Queen! What a hoot! We never wore helmets. I wasn’t yet in the double digits. Not that I would let my own young child not wear a helmet, as I certainly had my fair share of times being bucked off, but Jen was always there and she knew what to do. She also was not yet in her double digits. Today I am trying to instill confidence in my kids to try new things and to do things they are wary of. Not until now do I see a connection between that and what I was allowed to do as a child. For instance, I was also allowed to ride my bike 10 kms between our town and the next to visit my grandparents when I was 11.

How is all that green? Well, my interests saved on electricity because I didn’t need to be plugged in to anything to enjoy myself. I wasn’t throwing too many used and broken toys in the garbage because most of my toys consisted of trees, rocks, bushes, sticks, streams, other kids, pets, and my imagination. I even used to make some of my own toys. After I was shown how to use a hammer (age 5 – I guess I should get on that with my own 5 year old) I loved finding pieces of scrap wood and some nails in my dad or grandpa’s shop and building myself guitars (with elastic bands as strings), buildings and board games. On rainy days my mom used to give me egg cartons, small cardboard boxes, toilet paper rolls and other recyclables. Armed with some glue and scissors and I would spend the day in my room creating castles, boats and small cities. To this day I’m surprised by my lack of creativity and artistic talent because I had such a great imagination as a child. I try to instill that same sense of power of creation in my girls by doing lots of art and crafts with them.

One thing my mom did that I never realized was “green” until recently, was save almost all my old toys. I am now the proud owner (again!) of  a wooden rocking horse, the original Fisher Price farm, playhouse, airplane, and western town, and Fisher Price people and animals which my kids now love to play with. She even saved some of her own toys (Barbies, a crib and bassinet) which they also love. Talk about recycling through the ages! I love that my kids are playing with toys I once loved and that their Grandma once loved too! I’m nostalgic at heart too and will likely save the same toys and a few other special ones for them to pass on to their kids.

My dad used to take my brother and me on walks through the forest and on boat trips to explore small islands in the Johnston Strait. I remember one time him stopping in the forest and shushing us so we would listen to the birds. I have always poked fun at this memory but now I love to point out the same sacred kinds of moments with my kids. On the weekends my husband and I take the girls for hikes or to the beach, and even if they resist because they think they want to spend the day watching Barney videos, as soon as they get out the door we can’t get them back in. I teach them how to identify plants and what wild plants are safe to eat and which ones aren’t. I teach them about recycling, composting, saving electricity and water, and why we don’t eat meat. I have a rule in my daycare that states we do not watch TV when friends are here, which means from 7:30 – 4:30 the TV is off and the girls and other kids are forced to play the “old fashioned” way.

I wonder what my girls will be like when they grow up. Will they credit me with their environmental practices or will they think they became that way on their own? Or will “saving Mother Earth” be second nature to them because it’s what this generation is being forced to do? I wonder, but I don’t worry. Because regardless of all that I believe that raising them “green” is raising them happy. And that is the most important thing of all.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Code Name: Mama and Hobo MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants.

(This list will be updated March 9 with all the carnival links.)

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22 Responses to “I Thought I Made Them Green, But Really, They Made Me”

  1. #1 Amber Says:

    March 9, 2010 at 1:30 am
  2. #2 Mrs Green @ littlegreenblog.com Says:
    March 9, 2010 at 6:20 am
  3. #3 Lauren @ HoboMama Says:

    March 9, 2010 at 6:40 am
  4. #4 the Grumbles Says:

    March 9, 2010 at 12:17 pm
  5. #5 British Gas Energy Smart Says:

    March 9, 2010 at 12:39 pm
  6. #6 Michelle Says:
    March 9, 2010 at 12:40 pm
  7. #8 Dionna Says:

    March 9, 2010 at 2:53 pm
  8. #9 Green or Die! « Navelgazing Says:

    March 9, 2010 at 3:02 pm
  9. #10 Natural Parenting Says:

    March 9, 2010 at 4:11 pm
  10. #11 Jessica - This is Worthwhile Says:
    March 9, 2010 at 5:10 pm
  11. #12 Paige Says:

    March 9, 2010 at 9:45 pm
  12. #13 Darcel Says:
    March 9, 2010 at 10:13 pm
  13. #14 Dominique Says:

    March 10, 2010 at 3:55 am
  14. #15 CurlyMonkey Says:
    March 10, 2010 at 4:19 pm
  15. #18 Vintage Green: The Hot Water Tank is Not Sexy « Good Goog Says:

    March 12, 2010 at 11:22 am
  16. #19 Melissa Vose Says:

    March 12, 2010 at 11:05 pm
  17. #20 Vintage Green: The Hot Water Tank is Not Sexy | Good Goog Says:

    March 13, 2010 at 8:49 pm
  18. #22 Ending Is Better Than Mending? Says:

    April 19, 2010 at 1:38 pm

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