Friday, 11 March 2011


I have no personal experience with the cost of wipes --I never bought any. They were around, but like the cloth diapers I washed instead of buying new ones all the time, I used  cloth --those little baby face cloths, specifically. Water and a cloth: as high tech as possible, obviously. That's me.

There are a number of reasons I can think of to avoid buying disposable wipes, but the one that leaps to mind in this era of the Environmentalist, is Reduce~Reuse~Recycle. Buying a dozen cloths once is quite different from buying cases and cases of disposable wipes, all neatly packaged in disposable containers. Apart from the garbage they create, there is the inability to re-use them, and the fact that they are neither biodegradable nor recyclable. 

The cost difference from name-brand wipes to cloth wipes is incredible. In hours-of-work necessary, after taxes the cost a month's supply can be a whole day's work --or more. Somewhere around $40-50 a case in bulk (and a lot more one package at a time) after taxes at minimum wage, is about 10 hours. If mom and dad both work, and pay for daycare, the number of hours necessary to work just to buy wipes rises dramatically.

But here's a fantastically inexpensive disposable alternative: my sister emailed me the instructions...

Boil four cups of water and let it cool (perfect for a busy Mom cause I forget about it anyways)
Mix in 1 tablespoon body wash (I use the kids' Melaleuca) and three or four drops of tea tree oil (you can add lavender as well if you like but I don’t have any of that at home today)
Take the cardboard out of one roll of paper towels and put them in a plastic container with a lid that will fit them. 
Pour some of the water over the paper towels
Flip them over
Pour some more water over
Flip them over again and pour the rest on

Available to use

....I am breaking a sweat now....
I replied: You. Are. A. Super. Hero. I'm wiped. 
Photo (Butt Wipes, by basykes) used with permission (Creative Commons, attrib)

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

My Child --the question of ownership in childhood

Had a little rant, talking to a friend yesterday. What is it about the embarrassingly-poorly-written Secret Life of an American Teenager that brings this out in me? storyline involves a 'bad girl' who gets pregnant who, in the ever-so-delicate language the US networks use to avoid alienating a single sponsor (or inflaming a single protester), 'isn't going to keep it.' Her father, a bit of a rowdy himself, suddenly turns all conservative and is determined not to 'let her.' Because she is, as he says, 'my child.'

Dad's argument is solely, 'you are MY child...' with additional invective and raised voice.

Oooh, that makes me cringe. Not the least because the whole time this cryptic conversation is ongoing, they could have been talking about a broken toy or an old chair.

It reminds me a little of an ancient Electric Company piece, where an animated girl walks around her house picking things up saying 'this is my...'

While our children are certainly our responsibility, they are absolutely not our possessions. 

There is some confusion there, the difference between our responsibilities and our possessions. Partly, probably, because historically --legally-- our children were, once, our possessions, chattel, just as were wives. We were at liberty to sell them, and even to kill them. Those days, at least in the Western world, are gone.
In fact, just to clarify, no one belongs to anyone except himself. Or herself. We don't even have proper language to convey this self-ownership. And, sadly, we don't have another pronoun that indicates 'my association to' distinct from 'my ownership of'... which also muddles the issue.

My friend pointed out the distressing knowledge that while we can't control our kids, until they are of legal age, we are financially responsible for whatever they do. Strangely, this has not been the case in Canada until 2011, when a precedent-setting case made its way through BC Supreme Court. I am not alone in being flabbergasted by the fact that this has not always been the case.
BC Surpreme Court
However, this case also does not confer ownership --a great reason for parents to learn, somewhere between their kids' birth and 14 years of age, to influence them in an effective and positive manner... not to exert control.

But back to the cringe-worthy part of that tv show: our children are individual human beings, quite separate from ourselves. They are not 'ours' the way our houseplants, pets or feet are. 
They are their own selves.... 
...that is, they belong to themselves, not us.

Children come as their own people, and remain their own people. I suspect it might be helpful in living a respect-filled family life to remember that we are not controlling or owning them, but stewarding their individual, whole human selves, unto their adulthood. 

We do not possess, we chaperone.