Lately, my daughter has been doing something that has sparked some of my proudest moments to date as a parent. It has nothing to do with impressive demonstrations of memorization, advanced abilities or blossoming talents. Now that she just turned 3 and she’s able to really communicate thoroughly and ask thoughtful questions, the thing that makes me proudest is abundantly evident, and is summed up by her uttering one simple question – “Who made this?”
It began a few months ago, and these days she asks it with increasing frequency, about nearly everything. From the food we bring home from the grocery store to her clothing, she has even begun to ask, “Who wrote this?” about almost every book we read. She makes me stop on the cover or the title page to acknowledge the author and illustrator.
While I ironically have a blog that is dedicated to helping consumers find eco friendly products to purchase, I still try to make many things from scratch. I make many condiments and commonly packaged foods myself, and try to involve my daughter whenever possible. We make bread, work in the garden together growing and harvesting the food for our meals, and recently I set up some cross stitch fabric with a large, dull needle on a quilting hoop, so that she can experiment with “sewing” while I am on my sewing machine. Her father is an artist and started painting with her at a very early age, and she is also aware that he is a carpenter and "builds houses" at work.
The knowledge we have inadvertently instilled in her that things are “made” makes me so excited to see as a parent. Her thoughtful examination of everyday items and wonder about their origins, understanding that somebody somewhere created them even if we did indeed buy them at the store, warms my heart.
In this day and age of rampant consumerism where children are being bombarded with inescapable marketing, I think one of the most important lessons we can give a child is to show them that there is a person connected to just about everything we use. The farmer who grew their food, the person who sewed their shirt, the author who wrote their book… that awareness sets the stage for raising a generation of contributors who will fill the world with more art, music, good food and all around beauty.
Amy Serotkin is dedicated to sustainable living and finding ways to eliminate toxins in her home. She is an avid organic gardener and cook, and is always looking for more ways to challenge herself to lessen her family's ecological imprint.
Her website, www.themindfulhome.blogspot.com, shares with consumers the information she's found on toxins and eco friendly products that help eliminate disposables or toxin exposure. She also hopes to highlight smaller retailers, crafters and manufacturers.