“Mama, LOOOK at that mountain!!” exclaimed my astute almost three-year-old from the back seat on a five-hour road trip a couple weekends ago. My husband and I exchanged glances of “should we get into it now?” and then, because we had five hours…we (I) pounced on the teachable moment. His “mountain” was a landfill.
I explained in my mom voice, “Actually, Punkin, do you know what that mountain is made of? It’s made of garbage, trash. The kind we put out for the garbage truck to pick up. Tons and tons of it. You know when the garbage truck comes to our house on Tuesdays it takes away our trash? Well it brings it to a place like this. It’s called a landfill.”
My son seemed to get it, so I continued, “That mountain is actually trash piled up on trash and more trash from years and years of people throwing all their old stuff away. Our garbage has to go somewhere, so we put it in places like these. Over that grassy hill, you would see lots and lots of garbage bags and stinky diapers and old vegetables. Isn’t that gross?”
I’m not sure what he was picturing from my simple description, but he answered with a dutiful, “Yeah Mommy. Gross!!” Ok, I guess that’s enough for one lesson on the environment…landfills are, as my son simply put it, gross!
I don’t know the right way to teach my kids about being eco-conscious about the environment, but I do know that my husband and I want conservation and environmental friendliness to be an everyday, ingrained part of their lives as they grow up, like making their bed, taking a bath or going to school. I want it to be something they just DO, something they think about, something they believe in. And I’m hoping that because it’s so mainstream now, they won’t be in the minority when they get to school. I hoping that green will always be cool.
Our little interaction got me thinking about the lessons I teach my kids. That’s why today, I’m making a promise to myself to always take the opportunities to teach my kids to be green – both through words and actions (cloth diapering is a great example!). It’s easy to let these moments pass without explanations; I call it simplifying the hassle. But life lessons aren’t easy to explain in one session.. so as we approach Earth Day 2011, I commit to letting my son help with the recycling, talking more about the ways we can protect our planet and not shying away from teachable moments where I can teach him to be a good steward of our planet.
Happy Earth Day everyone!
PS – To have your very own teachable moment, bring your baby to our Earth Day celebrations at a Great Cloth Diaper Change event near you!
Sarah is a mom of two and blogs about her adventures in motherhood, cloth diapering and everything in between. Catch her “Cloth Diapering Unwrapped” series on the FuzziBunz blog every Tuesday. Learn more about Sarah here.