Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Parental Failings

It has been an interesting few weeks at our house. We're preparing for our middle child's graduation (thank goodness it is going to be a low-key affair), Jeanne and I are getting ready to teach a week-long course on aquatic biology to gifted and talented kids in the Alexandria area, and we're trying to figure out a little trip of some sort for the summer. Seems like the end of the school year is always a little hectic, but add graduation and Challenge Academy and it is even more so (oh, and I'm leaving for Annual Conference this afternoon for three nights).

But anyway, that's not what I wanted to blog on. No, I wanted to reflect on a major parenting failure on my part. No, none of the three kids are in trouble with the law, aren't doing drugs, or failing miserably at school. In fact we have three pretty awesome children, not perfect by any sort of the imagination (I mean with yours truly as a parent they are already disadvantaged!), but good kids. The two older kids have grown into their own "persons" pretty well. They may not take the exact path I or their mother would have picked, but the general direction is there. But Friday evening, a major parental blunder became evident during a phone conversation with our daughter. She was extremely excited that the farmer's market was opening in Madison this past weekend. I was pleased that she had perhaps listened over the years as we talked about eating as many things as we could that were grown locally, and any meat that we ate was humanely prepared for us. I thought it was great that she, a soon-to-be-senior at one of the biggest party schools in the country was looking forward to getting up early on a Saturday morning to shop at a farmers market. She had her Alexandria UMC canvas tote to haul things back on her bike all ready to go. Then the other shoe dropped. She excitedly explained that she couldn't wait to get fresh tomatoes, zucchini and was particularly excited about getting some apples. Silence.

Now, granted it has been warmer in southern Wisconsin than it has been here, but there's little chance that fresh produce has had the chance to grow to harvestable size. I had to explain to her that many of those crops were just being planted and that apples were probably not even blooming yet. So, despite our weekly trips to the local farmers market and a number of dinner conversations about food, the reality is that we raised a city kid insulated from the day to day production of her food. It certainly isn't her fault. When one can walk into any grocery store on any day of the year and find tomatoes, broccoli, zucchini and even asparagus they getting the message that here in the land of plenty these things are always available.

For us, in some ways this isn't a big deal, she obviously has figured out a "greener" way to live. In other ways though it is alarming. As parents, we've made an effort to teach our kids about food and stewardship for the earth. What is alarming is that most parents could care less or are basically unaware of these issues and are raising generations of kids that will care less as well. In fact that isn't just alarming, it is frightening.

So, Saturday morning, tote bag in hand, Sarah found fresh asparagus, rhubarb, and some hydroponic tomatoes. She learned about seasonality of foods and what it means to eat seasonally. Now I just have to work on the farm-raised salmon that she bought to have with asparagus and her homemade rhubarb cake. I guess a parent's work is never done.


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