Just recently I was reminded that kids are much wiser than we give them credit for.
While we were vacationing at Ocean Isle last month, I took a stroll by myself on the beach at dusk. It was so peaceful and beautiful. But something disturbed me....
There was a lot of trash. And suddenly my heart felt heavy. I will never understand people who leave their trash on the sand when they're at the ocean. No one is that important or that busy that they can't take a few extra moments to make sure they've left the beach as they found it!!! I must've seen at least ten of those fluorescent spoon/straw thingies on my very short walk. This is the type of thing that weighs heavily on my mind and my heart. I'm not the type of person who can leave it and then not think about it anymore. If I've seen it and done nothing, then I am just as guilty.
The next morning was our last day at the beach. Sophie was playing in the water. I took a trash bag to the beach and collected Sophie and told her we had some important work to do. She was excited! We started walking and I pointed out all the trash and explained that we were going to clean it up. Why us, she asked me, when we didn't put it there? Well, Sophie, the beach gives us so, so many things. We have a lifetime of beautiful memories from our times spent at the beach. Sand and saltwater seem to cure just about any ailment, physical or mental. The sun gives us loads of Vitamin D. The beach is a home to all kinds of creatures....the sand dollars that Mommy loves so much, the amazing dolphins that we're always searching out, the lovely birds of which we take so many pictures. The beach gives us many things....isn't it about time we give something back??? Don't you think the beach will be a happier place with less trash? It didn't take long and she was on a mission....searching out every bottle top, straw, umbrella tag, drink bottle, etc that she could possibly find.
A while later, we approached an area that was crowded with people, beach chairs and umbrellas. I started to turn back. Sophie said we needed to walk further. I said to her, "Soph, there are a lot people here....I don't want to make them uncomfortable by picking up trash all around them." And do you know what she said to me?
"Mommy, that's silly, if there are more people, there's more trash."
The wisdom of that statement stopped me dead in my tracks. Those words came out of my little Sophie's mouth ~ words that I'd never uttered but she'd figured out on her own. It made me happy but also sad. You best believe we then cleaned up all around those people. As Sophie pointed out to me, maybe it's a good thing if they're uncomfortable ~ maybe they'll actually clean up their trash! I can honestly say that was one of my proudest parenting moments. It made me feel that I must be doing something right.
For as long as I can remember, I've been searching and searching for people like me, with similar interests......possible vegetarians, earth-minded folks, gardeners, animal lovers, etc. Just as I'd given up trying, I found a little someone....walking right beside me....that little gal who calls me Mom.