Wastage

No, it’s not a small town in Buckinghamshire rife with teenage drinking and second homes; it’s what happens in our house every single day. You know what’s the worst thing? It’s making me turn into my parents.

The profligacy comes in many forms, making me feel like I metaphorically leveling swathes of the rainforest for my own 4×4 playground and giving me the carbon footprint of the Space Shuttle. I read articles and watch television programs about families that have managed to reduce their garbage to one bin-liner a year and recycle 99% of everything they consume and I applaud them. But I have barely enough time to blog about our consumption let alone do much about it. So, I am just going to moan about it.

  1. Food After crafting yet another dish that is both tasty and nutritional balanced (like I’m feeding astronauts) it always upsets me when one or both children say: don’t like it. What do I do? Store it for a later date so that the same thing happens? Or cook something else? (the ubiquitous pasta comes to mine – what the hell did we do before pasta arrived? Do Italian kids crave rice?) Also, Darling Daughter has an interesting eating technique which is to throw food in the vague direction of her open (sometimes not) mouth, resulting in a pile of food on the floor that could easily be reassembled as another meal on another day. This results in me having to bite my tongue and not say: What my parents would have said: Don’t you know that there are starving children in Africa who would die for a meal like that? Do you think we’re made of money, that we can just tip meal after meal in the bin like Mariah Carey because the pasta is the wrong shape…or the rice is basmati rather than easy cook…or we haven’t arranged the food in whatever shape it is this week? Now you sit there and you eat it and you don’t leave the table until you’re finished!
  2. Water It’s a good thing we live next to a lake because we use more water than Seaworld. Washing machines, dishwashers, baths, showers – all of that, plus: the kids like nothing better than to do water play and see how many plastic bottles they can fill up and then tip down the plughole…the fill up again and tip down the plughole. I watch the water wash away – gallons and gallons of it – and I bite my tongue and not say What my parents would have said: Don’t you realise there are children round the world who have to put up with a village half full of English chinless wonders on their gap year building wells and you are just sluicing water down the drain without a care in the world; these poor children are having to get water from roots and grubs. You have clean and safe drinking water coming out of a tap: you don’t know how lucky you are! What does sluice mean? Get a dictionary.
  3. Toys Like every parent, our house is chock full of plastic crap (i.e toys) and some well meaning but ultimately shite wooden toys. On a rainy day (when venturing out looks about as inviting as a maggot filled swimming pool) you just have to make do and get the toys and the paints out. After a while, though, Darling Son (depending on his mood) will utter the phrase: our toys are boring; so I have to bit my tongue and not say What my parents would have said: Boring?! When I was your age all I had was a piece of string and an elastic band to play with and I had to make do. There are children in the world and all they have is a single piece of lego; they don’t even know what it’s for. They think it’s an alien artifact or something. There are other children in the world who don’t have any toys at all and have to play with mud and animal droppings – and they’re the lucky ones. You’re just spoilt rotten and ungrateful!
  4. My Time Our children do a little bit of time in nursery (like they’re staying in Strangeways or something…) and they seem to largely enjoy it, they also learn French there and it gives me some time to do my work (I do actually design and animate stuff when I’m not blogging…really). There are some kids in nursery who are always there. But it’s a good nursery and some families have no other option other than to put their kids into daycare and I sympathise. We are lucky enough that the lion’s share of the childcare is done by me and you’d think that my kids would have cheshire cat grins on their faces; pinching themselves trying to burst the bubble of their good fortune…so I have to bit my tongue and not say What my parents would have said: both my parents worked for a living and I had to stay home alone with a box of salmon paste sandwiches, some Matchbox cars with wonky wheels and pages from Ceefax which I couldn’t stop looking at in case I missed something interesting. If we impacted upon my parents capacity to watch Corrie or Emmerdale then it was straight to bed with only a plain digestive and diluted milk – during the school holidays we were given a key, a ball and a watch (like an outward bounds course) and told to figure out our day from there. You don’t know you’ve even been born!

What can I do?

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11 thoughts on “Wastage

  1. Sounds like your parents were very wise!

    The old “starving in Africa” routine still gets churned out in our house, followed by a bowl of pasta to avoid more confrontation – no staying power in our generation.

  2. They are still very little… And sure, they don’t know how lucky they are.

    The chances are they’ll be adorable pretty soon for about 5 or 6 years, once the trauma of learning the basics is over and… before hitting puberty.

    Enjoy while the sun is shining.

  3. short of going to live on a kibbutz and growing and plaiting a beard there’s not much you can do. As for food I throw stuff away because I am a compulsive pig and would eat for England, Scotland and Wales if left to graze so when I’ve finished dinner I often throw the leftovers away. As for the kids not eating most things I cook it’s best not to get too worked up about it – as long as they’re not vitamin deficient its no biggie

    as for wasting water …I guess we could go back to even 20 years ago …my husband who is irish and has 4 siblings …I believe they had one bath a week, two kids at a time and the parents at the end adding a bit of water each time. It’s hard to think of going back to that tho isn’t it?

  4. Couldn’t agree more that wooden toys are indeed always shite. Without fail. Give them a plastic keyboard complete with microphone every time.

    I watched a programme once, American Wife Swap I think, where the Mom would make the kids eat their leftovers at the next meal . The swap kids were snivelling into their breakfast chicken nuggets within the first 24 hours, it was really harsh.

    Based on this post I am actually turning into your parents. I’m a water-saving-nazi and witnessed by 4 year old shouting at the not quite 2 year old for leaving a tap running so it’s clearly working.

    1. Eating leftovers is something that my mother used to make us do. Having beefburgers for breakfast is no fun at all. The main problem we had as children was that both our parents were Irish so we had potatoes with EVERYTHING. I can barely look at them now…

  5. Ache at the recognition of this.

    Regarding children starving in Africa, I always reckoned that every western kid’s first joke is: ‘So put it in an envelope and send it to them then.’ I think it was mine.

    The one bath a week thing tho’ – in our house that would be pretty good going.

    1. I think I used that line as well. Today I deliberately made a much smaller portion for both of them. What happens? They both lick the plates clean and demand more. FFS, can’t win!

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