Editorial: Bringing Along the Kids

I HEAR A LOUD WAIL FROM MY SON. I spin around to see he’s rammed his bike into a No Parking sign. He’s got minor road rash, a little bleeding. He was looking at the ground instead of where he was going. Is it a great learning experience or I am pushing him too hard?

I notice our two-year old has a mouthful of … what? Thankfully it’s just a fistful of unripened strawberries. After replanting the yard have we given our youngest the impression she can stick any plant in her mouth?

Introducing the “sustainability victims”-otherwise known as “our children.”

This year, with no fanfare, we decided to open ourselves up for bigger lifestyle changes in service of “greenness,” a nebulous concept that we interpret as contributing to the creation of a better world. The kids weren’t consulted. They’re still strapped into the family car-seat, so-to-speak.

For my partner the big change has been permaculture gardening. We are re-doing the entire yard with complimentary, low water, mostly native, edible plants. I go along with this not just to do good, but also because it appeals to my innate laziness-less mowing, less watering, and maybe fewer trips to the store if we eat what’s in our backyard.

For me, the big change is cycling. I love trying to replace car trips with bike trips. It’s good exercise and saves gas. I’m not sure why she’s gone along with my new zeal for biking. Maybe it’s because she knows how much I love her legs. Biking can just make them better.

We’re by no means anyone’s best example of an environmentally friendly family. We eat way more fast food than food from our own victory garden. I don’t log a fraction of the miles most real cyclists ride. If the kids are to have any hope of absorbing lessons from cycling and permaculture it won’t be because we show them how to make a better world-a concept they’re too young to understand. It will be because these pursuits nurture internal needs for personal growth and a connection to nature. If we can be happier and healthier maybe our children can be too. If we don’t maim or poison them first.



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