Captain Planet and the Planeteer

February 12th, 2013 posted by Tammy Riker

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Planeteer

Working in the yard is a hobby for me, a relaxing way to be outside and productive. I try to include my child in the process, encouraging him to plant, grow and nurture plants with the pay off being fresh vegetables for the summer. I liken myself to “Captain Planet” and Brett, my six-year-old son, is my little “Planeteer”. Staying in the green theme, I have explained to my kids that I do not use pesticides on the garden or plants and I use biodegradable household products, therefore helping “save the planet”. I have accepted recycling my cans, stacking and tying my newspapers, separating and organizing my bottles by color, showing each neighbor what I drink, and how much. I have my milk delivered, in glass jars right next to the water jugs, which is also delivered. Eliminating number three triangle non-recyclable milk cartons entirely. I wash out sandwich bags for re-use, cut six pack plastic rings so the ducks stay safe, buy dolphin friendly tuna fish and free range chicken. In the bathroom, shampoo is bought in gallons, so we re- use one bottle over again. When my son can read better he will see that we have been using ‘lemon joy’ on our hair for three years now. So I say, Go Planet! “Reduce, reuse recycle,” that’s my motto. “Why the egg shells Mom?” Brett asked me recently. “They stop the slugs and snails from getting into the plants,” I answer him, proud of my environment friendly garden. “And I place dried grass around the potato plants, to kill the beetles.” Satisfied, my little environmental specialist goes in to watch a movie. I relax alone in the garden. That was my mistake, and I know it now. Did I, as a mother and consumer, do something to encourage the rash of movies portraying talking bugs, who have better lives than I do? My child asked for an ant farm, I bought it. I didn’t know that grasshoppers should be destroyed to save the colony, I do now, because when my son asked me for this new bug movie, I bought it. Thanks to the magic of Hollywood, my child believes the movie to be true to life, teaching him compassion, and understanding for a bug’s life, yet at what cost? At the cost of my garden, my sanctuary, and quite possibly my sanity. “Mom’s garden” is now, in my child’s eyes, a death camp for every single solitary bug, worm, aphid, bee, fly, gnat, slug, snail, and finally ANT that cares to grab a snack off my once green and healthy plants. Through the magic of a television, these computer-animated creatures come to life to share their lives, troubles and struggles to survive with our human children. We watch them run in fear from other insects before hosting by parties and a circus. I forego my hobby to these blue ants and their Queen, who have aphids as pets. How horrible must I look to my children when I pluck ants off my garden plants and tossing them aside with disgust; when I smother poor beetles, smiling with pride as they lie dead at the base of potato plants; when I cover the ground with a layer of baking soda, salt and vinegar to annihilate the little white worms that will devour every seed I lovingly put into the dirt; or especially when I sprinkle eggshells on the ground to protect the tomatoes, therefore slicing up the bellies of slugs or snails that cross it? Brett sleeps on ANTZ sheets and under a Bugs Life comforter and his room is lined with their movie posters. To him I am a murderer … a “destroyer of the colony”. Now, the joy of gardening gone, I sit and talk with my son. “Mom, aphids make good pets.” I nod my head in agreement, reach towards the rose bush grab a single green fat aphid, one of many freely climbing the bush. I hand it to my son and walk away. Thanks once again, Hollywood, for robbing me — not only the $24.95 for the movie, but of my sanctuary. After all, I can’t in good conscience continue the slaughter of bugs in order to justify one of Brett’s least favorite things … vegetables.

This article was written and contributed by Tammy Riker.

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