Do you ever have those moments where you’re just so proud of your children that you have to tell someone? Or, in my case, the entire blogosphere?
I think it would be fair to say that I am proud of my children on a daily basis. They are just these amazing young people … they are best friends, polite, compassionate, creative, funny, hard workers, and simply a joy to be around. But enough about them … let me tell you about my mad parenting skills …
So, there we were … a few days ago … I was taking a break from my work to grab a snack, and my kids were playing space shuttle launch on their bunk beds. My son was up top, manning the shuttle, and my daughter was below, at mission control. When I wandered into their room, eating my banana, they asked if I could play with them. So, naturally, as is my multi-tasking nature, I made myself comfortable on the bottom bunk and told them I was the chimp they were sending into space. They wondered why a monkey would be an astronaut, and I had to explain that we sent a chimp into space before any humans to be sure that it was safe. My kids were so offended that some scientists thought an “aminal’s” life was less valuable than a human’s, that the game stopped there and devolved into a lesson on animal experimentation. I tried to explain the rationale behind the chimp flight, but in their minds, the issue was black and white–life is precious, and humans don’t have the right to prioritize their lives over those of animals.
“Fair enough,” I said. So then, because I think they should be fully aware, I explained to them that its not just NASA that tests on animals … all of the products people use in their lives–from cosmetics to cleaning supplies–are tested on animals to be sure they aren’t posionous or don’t burn our skin. My children were OUTRAGED. Of course, that’s when I got to save the day (because that’s what all SuperMoms do), and tell them that the products WE buy aren’t tested on animals … but there are plenty that are …
(Disclaimer: while I try hard to purchase ethical products, I do realize there is a lot of good that has come from animal testing in the form of medical research. So, while I think testing beauty products on animals is an unnecessary and vain practice, I’m not exactly jumping on the PETA bandwagon and torching any laboratories full of rats. There’s some grey area in my feelings on the subject … fifty shades, or so …)
Realizing that there are choices sent a wave of current through the little light bulbs floating above their heads, and suddenly they lit up with a brilliant idea … “then we have to tell people not to buy those products, Momma,” my daughter said.
“Well sure, honey, but how will we tell everyone?”
“We could write letters to those companies and tell them that ‘aminals’ are important too,” was her response. “And we can tell our friends.”
Recognizing this as a teachable opportunity (as you know I like to do), I commended her on her brilliant idea. And also, I had to get back to work, so I suggested that we make that letter writing campaign a summer project, and tabled the discussion. But she hasn’t stopped talking about it since. And so, as I started to formulate the idea, I thought about the learning opportunity … writing letters, spelling, sentence structure, addressing envelopes, learning how the postal system works, researching which companies test on animals and which don’t … it’s a fantastic project. For this summer. But my mini-activist is not content to wait.
Today is show-and-tell, so on the way to school she asked if I could stop at the store to buy two bottles of shampoo–one that is tested on animals and one that is not–so she can explain to her classmates that testing cosmetics on animals is unnecessary and cruel. Although she did go on to explain that while sending a monkey into space is unacceptable, it would be perfectly reasonable to send a mean animal, like a lion, or a bear. Minimizing animal cruelty … nice animals first, then mean ones … that’s our motto.
As soon as we climbed back into the car, my son thought he should chime in to the conversation to point out that we just bought a bottle of shampoo that is tested on animals. So what are we going to do with that? Waste it? Yes, I thought … it’s a teaching tool, so she has something to show her classmates. “But you just spent money on a company that tests on animals, so now they have more money to go test on more animals, Mom.”
What was that lesson I preached on voting with our wallets? I don’t know if you read that one … but somehow my seven year old gleaned the lesson …