Situated at the end of a peaceful cul-de-sac, nestled amid tall shade trees on a wide swath of grass, my home appears to be quite the harmonious suburban oasis at first glance. But inside, a battle rages every day, between the Forces of Nature (represented by Mom...um..."Environmental Warrior Queen"...or something...) and the Army of..."We Couldn't Care Less about Hazardous Chemicals or Unhealthy Food Additives, Just Buy Us the Name Brands". (Clearly, I'm going to prevail, if only because their name is so devastatingly inferior...)
In our history, these opposing groups have clashed over such seemingly innocuous items as: Pop Tarts. (Regular ones contain either partially hydrogenated oil--which is unacceptable enough--or gelatin, which is downright...icky. And guess what? Organic ones are completely gross-stuff-free...but according to the highly refined palates of my children, they "don't taste as good". My deeply sympathetic response went something along the lines of "Suit yourself, and consider this a toaster-pastry-less household...") Then there was our epic throwdown regarding marshmallows, (again with the cow parts, what the heck's up with that?) for which we recently did manage to find some creative alternatives that ended up pleasing everyone. You see, it seems that Fluff--that gooey tub of goodness--contains only corn syrup, sugar, egg whites, and vanilla, all of which pass the Mom Test for Purity (and Deliciousness, incidentally: BONUS!). As for the Hot Chocolate Conundrum, after the boys rejected the Vegan Marshmallow Experiment (whereby the nuggets are held together with carrageenan, a seaweed...the result in my opinion tasted just fine, but admittedly didn't melt all that successfully) we hit upon a time-honored favorite to rescue our cocoa: I'm talking about whipped cream, of course. Believe it or not, the stuff you spray out of a can contains real milk, and nothing on the Parental Non-Consumption List. And, well...it's whipped cream, so...YEAH!
When it comes to personal care products, I try to be just as cautious, avoiding unnecessary chemicals whenever possible. You might recall the Great Deodorant Debacle of a few months ago, which involved Riley being allowed to switch from Tom's brand (due to the fact that it just didn't work for him at all...trust me...) to the evidently oodles and oodles more desirable...Dove Men + Care. (I still put my foot....make that both feet...down on the Old Spice. Or, heaven forbid, Axe. Not. A. Chance. In. Well, you know...) This left Riley gleeful...and Derek downcast. (Okay, not really. But I did take a whole lot of grief about it nonetheless.) So when I noticed Derek's stick was--not really running low, but oddly misshapen and...just weird-looking--I bought him the same kind and slipped it in among his toiletries.
Somehow, he spotted it the moment he entered his room upon returning from school. (Absolutely astonishing--this is the boy who has literally walked right over his own possessions, then turned around and asked me where to find them...) "Is this mine?" he called across the hall. I couldn't resist, "No, I just put it in there to taunt you. Give it back." (Once again demonstrating the use of Sarcasm as Instructional Tool...completely legit, yeah?) His face broke into a delighted grin and he rushed over to (lean down and) throw his arms around me, "Yay, real deodorant! Now I won't smell like crud! Now I'll smell like sunshine...and roses!" Here I felt compelled to break in, even crushed against his shoulder as I was, "Um, it's a men's product, so probably not." He amended, "Now I'll smell like...beer...and football!" Sigh. Apparently, I made his young life complete...at least for today. And sometimes, either as a parent or even as the Environmental Warrior Queen, that's victory enough! (Because who knows, tomorrow we could totally be engaged in...the Great Shampoo Skirmish....or something...and there's just no telling how that's gonna go...)