We stood in front of racks filled with candy, the girls’ eyes wide as they scanned the recognizable packaging for something that jumped out at them. I prodded them to hurry up—OK, strongly urged is probably closer to the truth. We were going to be late. We were meeting our friends at the movie theater next door but had stopped in to pick up way less expensive candy (shhhh, don’t tell).
Samantha made her choice and immediately flipped the package over to read the back. “Mom?” she said. “I don’t think this has nuts, but can you check to make sure it’s safe for Maddie?” She wasn’t planning on sharing her candy, but she knows that Maddie has a serious nut allergy and wanted to make sure her buddy would be safe.
My momma heart burst a little, especially since lately I’ve noticed one too many adults having little to no regard for the safety of kids with food allergies. They complain about the inconvenience of having to work around allergies for school snacks and birthday parties. They are incensed that their children have to “miss out” because another kid has an allergy.
My children don’t have food allergies and I’m pretty much a tree hugging hippie, but thought processes like those fill me with rage.
Since Earth Day is this Wednesday, I thought I’d do a whole week’s worth of earth-friendly posts. If you know me or have been reading for any length of time, you know I’m a total tree hugger. Call me hippie dippie, call me Earth Momma, call me whatever. I happen to think it’s kind of important to take care of this little planet we live on. And I think it’s incredibly important to teach our kids the same thing.
Like many adults, kids totally tune out when you start lecturing them on the evils of pesticides or the dangers of water pollution. No one wants to be preached at. Instead, I like to fall back on the same rule of thumb I go by when it comes to teaching kids to be giving: make it fun and make it a normal part of their life.
If your kids see you throwing used bottles in the recycling bin regularly, they’ll start doing it too. If they watch you throw garbage out of your car window, they’ll do that. If you make a conscious effort to be environmentally friendly, those little buggers will be right there with you. And it doesn’t hurt if you model that behavior in a way that’s really fun.
I put together a list of 15 kids activities to try out this Earth Day—or any day.
Last week I met my mother-in-law in Manhattan to take the girls to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. So much potential for learning at a major cultural institution, right?
Yeeeeeah, that sounds nice and all and while it is true, I learned way more in the Life Lessons department than I soaked up in the art history department. For instance…
1. Plans are stupid.
Duh. I mean, I should have known this. Kids + plans = a regular laugh riot.
When Sam’s birthday rolled around last month, I decided we were way better off gifting her an experience than giving her more stuff. She’s got so much stuff. I knew that anything she wanted would come from family members and the friends who came to her birthday party, so we decided to plan a special family day instead of getting a ton of things for her to unwrap.
When my brother-in-law’s girlfriend mentioned a puppet show in Central Park, I knew I had to look into it. Samantha watched Labyrinth with my husband recently and loved all of the behind-the-scenes footage that showed how the puppeteers worked all of the puppets. Add that to the fact that a puppet show isn’t too old for a three year old to enjoy and I thought we might just be in business.
And I have to say, we had a pretty awesome day.
Today is my daughter’s last day of second grade and my feelings about the situation can be described as a mixture of excitement and pure panic. While there are a bunch of fun things on our to-do list, girlfriend is used to having all of her days totally planned out for her—back-to-back activities and friends and learning. Being home with none of the above spells trouble.
I think there’s a lot to be said for boredom and having to figure out how to entertain herself, but there’s even more to be said about saving my sanity. And being able to work. And maybe vacuum once or twice. Or at least being able to think about vacuuming without having my thoughts interrupted by the incessant drone of how bored everyone is.
So I took to the interwebs and compiled a list of things kids can do—outside. You’re welcome.