My 9-year-old son got annoyed with me yesterday that I won’t buy cooking spray. I rolled my eyes at him and told him when he cooks every night in his house when he’s an adult, he can buy whatever the heck he wants.
I explained to him that there is no reason to buy oil spray in a big metal can that will sit in a landfill for hundreds of years when we can just put oil on our fingers and grease the pan or use a good old fashioned stick of butter to do it.
I thought the explanation of having a can sit in a landfill for hundreds of years would help him see my point, since caring for the earth is not a new topic in our house. He wasn’t moved and simply answered, “Yeah, but it’s so much easier, so we should get one.”
He was so pragmatic about it--it’s easier, so why wouldn’t we do what’s easier? I can’t blame the kid since I find myself doing things because they’re easier, but easier isn’t always as fulfilling or right.
Take plastic bags for example. Dang, do I haaaaaaaate plastic bags. I loathe them. Yet, open my pantry door and you will see an ever-accumulating toxic snowball of them eerily growing and growing, taking over.
I even keep my own reusable bags in the trunk of my car, so if I go to the store, I can stop adding to the blob of plastic bags in the pantry that I am sure will end up floating in the ocean one day. But lately I’ve been ordering groceries ahead of time, and they put them in plastic bags, so my reusable bags sit untouched, and I cringe every time I pull the pile of filled plastic bags that are loaded in the trunk next to them.
I’ve given up some fights because it’s easier to give up, but if we’re all giving up and taking the easier route, who is going to muster up enough energy to forge a new path?
My refusing to buy cooking spray in a can is not exactly “forging a new path” and deserves no applause, considering I do plenty of other things to take a dump on this planet that I’m not proud of, but I want to keep trying to fight against doing things all the time just because they’re easier.
“Easy” usually means there’s a catch. There’s a reason it’s easier, and usually the shortcut taken means somebody or something is taking the hit.
Maybe as parents we’re supposed to want an easier life for our kids, but I have to admit I don’t always want that. What I’d rather have is kids who can see beyond themselves and can consider the effects of their actions above their selfishness. That’s a lot to hope for, but doing little things like saying no to cooking spray and not eating meat every night are small things to remind them doing the harder thing is a really admirable thing.
Again, avoiding cooking spray is not exactly admirable, but the conversation is worthy of having, even with a persistent 9 year old who can’t see past himself. The same child gardened with me last night and watered our veggies with rain water we collected the day before, so maybe my actions will sink in deeper than my words.
Maybe one day when his kids are rolling their eyes at him as he explains that easier isn’t always better, he’ll see my point. Maybe one day when he’s a parent he’ll have the same struggle his mama has of wanting to not always take shortcuts but of being tired enough where those shortcuts are tempting.
The truth is, each day we are faced with the decision to choose conscience over convenience, and it’s not realistic to expect ourselves to always avoid selfish choices that make our lives easier. We have to be okay with it being a balanced battle at times. Maybe the plastic bags will pile up, but maybe we’ll say no to cooking spray to offset that choice.
It’s a balancing act I try not to get worked up about, but I tend to get worked up about anyway. Getting worked up about it is something I do want my kids to see and consider because looking the other way and pretending they’re the only ones who matter would again be the easy thing to do, and I'm not interested in that.
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