My current parenting / landfill dilemma!
Things are getting really difficult and I don’t know what to do about it. In fact I’m feeling a bit dispondant about the whole thing today.
Little Miss Green is now eight and she’s been asking me for a few weeks about pocket money.
To cut a long story short, she is now the proud owner of weekly pocket money. This is her fourth week of having her own money and it’s not going well.
LMG started off by purchasing a magazine and now she’s open to advertising. We’ve lived without a TV for over 10 years, so we haven’t had to deal with this before. But these girl’s magazines are full of adverts for the latest plastic toy or craze and LMG wants it all!
She has been entering competitions to win things and of course, now I’ve suddenly realised that you don’t need to go to a toy shop to buy toys; they are everywhere. In the supermarkets, even in the corner store, you name it, every shop has at least one shelf or stand of crap toys. I’d never even noticed them before but Little miss Green has managed to sniff them out within the past 3 weeks and more time is spent pouring over Polly Pocket toys than deciding which brand of soup to buy.
I decided from the start that I should give this pocket money unconditionally, from my heart and not instil any sense of guilt or judgement into little Miss Green. There is nothing worse than feeling judged. I don’t want her growing up feeling guilty every time she buys something she wants and I don’t want it to be my voice in her head as she’s deciding what to buy. She doesn’t buy sweets because she can’t have sugar, but anything else is fair game as far as I am concerned. I figured that I couldn’t teach her about good and bad purchases without her experiencing it for herself. It’s a bit like teaching a toddler about burning themselves; it’s no good telling them what hot is, they have to touch something hot to find out.
So far, Little Miss green’s gifts of choice have been magazines (complete with free plastic gift which will no doubt soon be broken), a barbie look alike, two plastic horses and a set of plastic cats with weird fashion accessories because we all know that cats love to wear shoes, coats and wigs, right?
This week Little Miss Green asked me to spend some time with her.
“Sure honey, what would you like to do?” I asked
“Let’s go upstairs and tidy my room!” she said
How could I resist? I’ve been desperate for her to get the decluttering bug for a few weeks, so off we went.
Three hours later we reappeared with a lot of paper for recycling, a bag of things for the charity shop and sadly, some plastic for landfill – a few broken toys and some horrible packaging from some of the aforementioned toys and magazines.
As you know, rubbish bin space is getting smaller and we have a big media story coming out towards the end of the year, so all eyes are on us to achieve our goal of only one dustbin full for 2009.
Mr Green announced to me this morning that he was going to empty out the dustbin and see if we had anything in there which could in fact be recycled to try and make more room. Our awareness of what can be recycled along with local recycling facilities are improving all the time, so there may well be a few things in there which we can now recycle.
In the meantime we need to come up with some strategic planning along with Little miss green to decide what she is going to do. We are not about to make her childhood a misery; we live in the 21st century, and sadly most children’s toys come heavily packaged in plastic and are made from plastic materials, but we need to plan how we are going to deal with all these toys wrappings and inevitable broken pieces.
To top it all off, Little miss Green’s plans in the summer which revolved around Yule being a celebration of nature, making our own gifts and making decorations from natural materials has metamorphosed into a wish list of barbie, another plastic cat set and Polly pocket …
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you think Little miss Green should unwrap in the shop or return to the manufacturer along with a covering letter? Or do you think we need to stop her from buying such highly packaged goods in the first place? Should I be tougher and instil my values more or continue my ‘live and let live’ attitude to life? There’s nothing quite as emotive as how we parent our kids, so please join in with the discussion and tell me how you personally deal or would deal with things. What do you do when your values and your child’s desires are not entirely in synch?