Tuesday, April 12, 2016
My Little Bootstrap Conservationists
This parenting gig is rough. I'm glad I didn't know the toll becoming a parent would exact from my vitality, body, relationships, finances, career—what's that?, sanity… ...because—gasp—maybe I would have done things differently. And not having my girls would be the only lamentable loss in this scenario.
So I've messed up, a lot. Turns out I'm not as patient and kind as I thought I was. I can be downright cranky and crazy yelly. Seriously. I've struggled, see here My Rough Day and here The Great Shower Debacle and here Rise of Cave Berzo. And those are only the ones I've shared publicly—it's rare that I go a day without feeling humbled in someway by my lack of parental awesomeness.
However, today is not one of those days. Today, I noticed a wonderful characteristic about both of my girls. They are both bootstrap conservationists in the making. Before you groan about goddam-tree-huggers, hear me out. We were at a park today that has several ponds. My girls were looking for the two overgrown coy fish when Boots spotted an old plastic sack half buried in mud, half floating in the water. She ran up to me, (I was on the paved walkway, not getting muddy) and told me about it. I told her she could fish it out with a stick if she wanted to, and she dashed off to find one. While she was looking, Berzo reached in and pulled it out. It was nasty. Boots hung it on her stick and ran it to the garbage can. Then they found two more pieces of trash and repeated the process. I didn't interfere, just noticed their efforts verbally ("You cleaned up three pieces of trash, blah, blah, blah.") and moved on with the rest of our trip.
We've always done these things, I've never really given it much thought. Then when I read the term “Bootstrap Conservation” in the book entitled, Last Child in the Woods, recently, I realized that that's what we're doing, on an incredibly small scale, of course. But even pennies amount to dollars especially when you have help collecting them. Does this mean my girls are going to grow up to be be-dreadlocked loonies that chain themselves to trees and sing Kumbaya while heavy equipment grumbles all around them? No—well I hope not. What it means is that they won't pass by a problem and and think, “Someone should do something about that.” Instead they reach into the muck pull out the garbage and put it in the trash can. Instead of lamenting the declining honey bee populations, they'll plant native wildflowers and give a wayward bee some honey from their rescue packets.
They won't be the type to watch and whine, they won't expect accolades for their conservation efforts, they'll just see something that needs doing, then do it.
And that makes me think that perhaps, just perhaps, I haven't completely bungled this child rearing job.