Tag Archives: lessons

I May Need To Breathe Into A Bag Here

a seagull standing on a plastic bin that is floating in the oceanI was reading here and here about the gajillion tonnes of plastic floating in the sea, and it’s FREAKING ME OUT, MAN! I mean, I am seriously having a crisis here.

I never really researched this before. We lived on a beautiful beach for years, and used to take a pack of garbage bags down from time to time, fill them up with plastic bottles and Styrofoam and the odd can, and whine about the twits who allow their garbage to get into rivers and thus to the sea. Every bit of garbage that finds its way into a drain will eventually get into the sea, if someone doesn’t pick it up and see that it’s disposed of properly.

I was really mad about how it looks, you know? Stinky. And, well, the turtles might eat a bag and get sick or DIE, which is bad.

People of Earth, it is worse than that.

I have often smugly mentioned that my town recycles over sixty percent of our garbage, and that is great, but what good is recycled plastic, really? Have YOU ever bought a recycled plastic anything? I don’t think I have. I hear they use recycled plastic in furniture and cars? Companies like Billabong pride themselves on clothing made from fibres of recycled plastic. The trouble is that the plastic we use and recycle is never re-made into new water bottles or clear food punnets or T-Shirt bags. Products made from recycled plastic are not usually themselves recyclable. And plastic NEVER EVER breaks down.

So every. Single. Plastic. Thing. That I have ever bought or used is still plastiking it’s way around as someone’s backpack or deckchair, lying under a heap of landfill or *shudder* floating in the sea, where it confuses birds, fish and whales who think it’s something yummy. There are so many tiny bits of plastic in the sea that in some areas, if a whale opens wide to gulp some yummy krill, five-sixths of what the whale swallows will be plastic bits.

This doesn’t just give the wildlife indigestion; it causes hormone imbalances, severe blockages and death.

So, what am I going to do about it?

Already I have become fanatical about taking my shopping bag with me when I go out.

Tomorrow, on our day out to the city, I’m taking my thermos so that I won’t have to buy a plastic cup of (inferior) coffee. Saving money AND the Earth while enjoying awesome hot yumminess!

I have been ordering my groceries online and having them delivered: This saves packaging, since the groceries are brought in large baskets (no bags), which are offloaded and taken away. The delivery man will also take any plastic bags I have away for recycling. It’s also really cool to have SOMEONE ELSE carry those groceries up the stairs and into the kitchen… all I have to do is offload them and check the list to make sure nothing’s been forgotten.

I have a plastic-bag-recycling zone: all recyclable bags are dusted out or rinsed if necessary, and added to the main bag. This includes bread bags, salad bags, snack bags, and the plastic that covered my new mattress.

I will buy mayo in glass jars, not convenient squirty bottles.

I will BE AWARE of what I buy, and what packaging it comes in. If those sweet peppers are in a Styrofoam tray, I can do without them.

I am looking into organic farm delivery, where a farm in my area makes weekly neighbourhood deliveries of in-season fresh fruit and vegetables. This may be expensive, so I’m comparing prices and products. We eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, and not much meat, so this may be a tasty and healthy option for us.

I will make more snacks from scratch, instead of buying packaged ones. I like to cook, and the kids like my dips, cookies and sandwiches, so it makes sense.

So far, all of my Down-With-Plastic activities have made me feel slightly better. I understand the importance of plastics in medicine and safety, and I do appreciate the good looks and convenience of so many plastic products, but I feel that it is time for the shoppers of the World (That’s us, fellow Mommies) to make a stand. For our children’s future, if there is to be one.

What else can we do to reduce our plastic consumption? Any suggestions?

by Nan Sheppard

Photo graciously provided by KM&G-Morris, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved

Let Them Off The Hook

shards of glass and the base of a broken vaseKids make mistakes. It comes with the territory. Spilled milk, broken cups, broken promises, etc. Kids are oopsie machines. But what comes after the oops?

There are options, and they are situation-dependent. Sometimes there’s a lesson that needs to be taught. Sometimes we need to inform them of our feelings. Sometimes it’s just time to throw our heads back and laugh.

But at all times, in every situation, we need to let them off the hook. That has to happen. Otherwise they will develop a tiny amount of scar tissue on their sense of self-worth. And, over time, that scar tissue will build up.

Now I’m not saying that we shouldn’t hold our kids accountable at certain times. But even then, after we’ve told them how we feel, after we’ve sat them down and walked them through what happened and introduced them to the consequences of their actions, we need to let them off the hook.

What does that look like? How does “letting them off the hook” work in a real-life situation?

Let’s say your kid likes to play with a ball. You remind them, time and time again, “Please don’t play ball in the house.” And despite your pleadings, they end up playing ball in the house anyway. And maybe one day they play ball in the house and they break a vase. After you clean it up with them, after you sit them down in their room and explain why you are upset that they broke the rules and broke the vase, you let them off the hook, finishing with: “Look, I love you no matter what. I know that you didn’t mean to break the vase, that you would have *never* broken the vase on purpose, that you just made a mistake. And mistakes happen and we learn from them. So, in my heart and in my head, I forgive you. It’s not really your fault, mistakes like this happen to all of us. Learn the best you can from what happened and let’s move on.”

Obviously you’ll write your own dialogue there, but you get the idea: Make sure they understand that it’s just a mistake, and regardless of the outcome, regardless of consequences, that once the conversation is over, they’re off the hook.

What’s the long-term? My money says that you’ll discover your kids will become more trusting of you, more flexible about rules, more willing to work with you, and more sure of themselves. If not, I provide a money-back guarantee.


by Stu Mark


Photo graciously provided by tanakawho, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved

The Golden Rule

Ever since my son started first grade, he and his little sister have started to bicker. Nothing big, it just seems like they get on each other’s nerves more than they used to. They have always done the sibling fighting thing but it seems, to me anyway, like it’s more than before.

As is often the case with things between siblings, Mom seems to get dragged into the middle of things often. Maybe the bickering is to get my attention. Maybe it is because they can’t express how much they actually do miss each other. Maybe it is just the assertion of ones identity that goes on at this age. Whatever the cause, it is driving me crazy! :)

Since I am often asked to intercede in whatever injustice has transpired, I have been using two mantras over and over again. First is, choose your battles. It takes a lot of energy to fight, so the thing you’re fighting for better be worth is. Second, treat other people (including your brother or sister) as you would want to be treated.

I don’t know if this is all sinking in, but I figure that these are the two principles upon with I live my own life, so it is about time I tried to pass them along to my children.


by Rocket Science Mom



Photo graciously provided by *clairity*, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved


Short And Inexperienced

a young girl frustrated and deflated over her homeworkRecently, a friend mentioned that their kid (early elementary school age) forgot to pack their homework, thus said homework did not make it to school. The response from the friend was a plan of being stern with the child, to give them a firm talking-to (my paraphrasing). My reaction was a slight cringe (on the inside) and a decision to write the following:

I believe that kids are the same as adults, except for two things: One, they are shorter than us. Their physical perspective is drastically different. What we see as a counter, they see as a wall. What we see as a bush, they see as a tree. They see things differently and it effects their day-to-day lives and it effects their emotional reality.

Secondly, they have less experience than us. We’ve ridden a two-wheeler for years. We’ve had meaningful relationships for years. We’ve had jobs, we’ve had love affairs, we’ve had hangovers. They haven’t. Their experiences are limited.

But that’s it. Everything else about them is the same as us. They’re human beings, just like you and me. Humans with the same likes and dislikes, the same feelings, the same passions, the same souls. We both love popcorn and a good movie, we both love to laugh, we both get stressed if we’re in a strange part of town, we both get a little nuts when we lose our glasses or forget our lunch at home. We are the same. We have sadness, we have joy, we have moments of daftness and moments of brilliance and moments of neuroses.

So when the homework gets forgotten, or lost, or done poorly, my strong opinion is that sternness is not the answer, that it’s not fair (Who are you to hassle your kid about homework? Did you remember your homework every day?), and it’s not respectful (What? Are you better than them?)

I’m not saying that the forgetting of the homework is not, at times, crazy-making. But if you can stop yourself for a minute, remember that your kid is, aside from height and experience, an essential equal, maybe there’s a way for you to empathize with their mistake, to validate them, to say a kind and encouraging word. Maybe respect will get the homework to school and the larger lesson imprinted in their soul.


by Stu Mark


Photo graciously provided by Cayusa, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved

Just Say No

When I was a child, my mother was a heavy smoker.  Every so often she tried to quit smoking, but she never lasted more than a few days, days that my brother and I still remember as tough on us all.  I don’t think she ever yelled at us as much, or as arbitrarily, as she did on those few cigarette-free days.*

You might expect the odds to be high that my brother and I would end up smoking, but we didn’t.  Our mother made sure of it.  It was one of her finest parenting moments when she called us into the family room where she was smoking and watching the news.  I was perhaps three years old, and my brother five.  She smiled almost seductively as she said, “I’ll bet you two want to try my cigarette, don’t you.  It looks like fun, doesn’t it?”  And she held out her cigarette for us to see before she continued:  “Now here’s what you do.  You take a deep breath in, and then blow it out.”

Of course we weren’t going to resist the opportunity suddenly before us, and she was counting on that fact.  I took the cigarette and sucked in as hard as I could.  Instantly I was choking on the smoke.  I found the taste bitter and altogether awful; within moments, I felt dizzy and nauseated.  The experience was vile and consequently unforgettable, for me and my brother both.

Later, when my brother and I were in elementary school, our mother would occasionally remind us of that time, as well as reinforce the memory with the verbal message that smoking was a disgusting habit that was also extremely unhealthy.  Short of her not smoking at all, she did everything she could to ensure that my brother and I would never smoke.  We became so adamantly opposed to smoking that we used to flush her cigarettes down the toilet.  Oh, she loved us then!

Last month, my fifth-grade son started a unit in school on drug and alcohol awareness and prevention.  Since then, when he sees his father open a bottle of beer or me pour a glass of wine, he shrieks.  “Don’t DO that!,” he exclaims.  “It will KILL you!”  His fervor makes us laugh.  But at the same time we are thankful to the school district for engaging students on this topic.

It will take some time before my son understands the difference between using alcohol and abusing it.  Until then, I am happy to see him so riled up about alcohol and drugs.  He is about to enter middle school, where he will be exposed to all kinds of new ideas and activities, some wonderful and some not so wonderful.  Is it too much to hope that, like my brother and I before him, my son remains as appalled by the idea of alcohol and drugs as he is right now?

*When she was 61 years old, my mother was diagnosed with a smoking-related cancer.  Thankfully, she survived the cancer.  She died this April at 72 years old, but it was not smoking that killed her.


by Slouching Mom



Photo graciously provided by HAMED MASOUMI, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved