In my defense, I don’t have much experience at it. My husband and I began fostering two girls, now ages 5 and 7, last summer. It’s been a life-changer. Sometimes we get it right with what we call a “pro-parenting maneuver.” When we REALLY get it right, it’s a “next-level parenting maneuver.” Most of the time we’re just trying not to suck at it. And then, sometimes it’s a “Parent Fail.”
I’ll let you make the call which one this falls under because I have no idea.
For months, the five-year-old had problems with accidents, like many children her age in the foster system do. Something about all the trauma they’ve endured devolves a child back a few years, and potty training is often the first to go for kids in her age range. I hit every parent forum I could find and tried nigh about everything anyone suggested. Nothing worked. She said she cared, but it sure didn’t seem like it to me. Two months ago when I figured out she actually liked wearing pullups and was peeing on herself more often just so I’d put her in them, I nearly snapped.
She’s very into plants, particularly flowers, but anything green and growing fills her with joy. (I’m so excited to finally have a gardener in the family, as I somehow managed to kill mint. I know. How do you kill mint?) She’s also terribly sensitive about plants dying. So I whipped out my phone and looked up pictures of landfills. As the internet chugged away, I asked her where the trash, like her pullups, goes after we throw it away. She proudly stated that it was taken away every week. I pressed on, asking where it then went. She thought about that for a moment and couldn’t come up with an answer. Ye Olde Google Image Search having done its job by this point, I saw that the second picture on the list showed something that looked like a meadow with trees and flowers right next to a dump. I flipped the phone around and showed her that.“See, this whole place used to be green with trees, but people threw too much trash away, and look what happened.”
“They killed the trees?”
“Yes. Because there was too much trash. It has to go somewhere.”
She burst into tears, I’m talking shaking, sobbing, hysterical tears. At this point I wondered if I’d done the wrong thing in showing a (then) four-year-old pictures of a landfill. I held her and rubbed her back as she wailed, “I don’t want to kill trees! I don’t want to kill trees!” I calmly reminded her that if we don’t waste, we won’t kill trees. Eventually she calmed down, and life went about it’s merry way–now with me wondering if I’d further traumatized an already traumatized child. I also wondered if it was going to help or just upset her.
And then at lunch time, she realized she had to go to the bathroom. Bolting up from her chair, she announced this to everyone and took off running for the potty yelling, “Save the trees!”
For the record, she no longer has accidents.
In honor of my daughter and her save-the-tree efforts, I’m offering e-copies in the winner’s format of choice of the first two books in the Tales of the Underlight: How Beauty Met the Beast and How Beauty Saved the Beast to a winner drawn by the hop. I hope you enjoy! And if you have any tree-saving habits you’d like to share in the comments, I’d love to hear them!