Sometimes I feel that being a mother means also being a fighter. Some days I feel like I’m constantly fighting against the food industry, the educational system, toy companies and television shows. I want to raise my kids to be discerning citizens, to think for themselves, to determine the value of something on their own. But sometimes it gets exhausting.
For example, this morning I was listening to an episode of Pediacast that discussed food ingredients, including high fructose corn syrup, aluminum and natural ingredients. One snippet of information I learned is that numbered food dyes are petroleum-based substances. Petroleum-based? Why are we putting this in our food? Who first thought this was a good idea? Of course the answer is a corporation with a bottom line and little regard for the outcome and affects on real-life people. We are very intentional about what we consume and give to our children, even when it means more label reading, a bigger grocery budget and having to repeatedly tell the kids no to items they want to buy. I sometimes question our choices, but this podcast was a reminder of why we choose to eat the way we do.
Another example is that a few weeks ago, I got an email from one of those money-saving group things. One of the offerings was for books. I love books. The kids love books. Let’s check out the deal. It was specifically for books for girls. They were all frou-frou and frilly. And I got annoyed. This is why I constantly have to remind my three-year-old that there are not “girl toys” and “boy toys.” They are simply toys. You can choose to play with whatever you want. If J wants to play house and nurse the baby to sleep (it has happened), fine. If K wants to grab a Nerf gun and take down a monster (it has happened), super. But just because the Lego box has pink and purple on it does not mean that only girls can play with it. And, conversely, just because the Legos we have in the house are blue, red, green, etc., does not mean they are only designated for boy play.
Don’t even get me started on television. Let’s just say there are two reasons we don’t subscribe to television: frugality and limiting our children’s choices. I would LOVE to have ESPN and the Tennis Channel so I can get my tennis fix year round, but I know that by allowing those two channels would also allow for constant streaming of countless shows geared towards my kids, teaching them things that I would only have to fight to help them unlearn, such as kids being way smarter than their dopey parents.
Sometimes I get exhausted from fighting the fight and I understand why parents give up and give in. Marketers definitely don’t make it easy on parents. But this morning my urge to fight was reignited when K said, “Don’t you think it’s weird that Belle is a person and Beast is a beast?” I was so proud of her observation and discernment. Maybe the kids are learning to evaluate things for themselves. Oh, and in response to her question, yes, K, it is weird. Very, very weird.