Friday, October 22, 2010

"Mama, is this good for me?"

Lian Ed, my five-year old son, caught me by surprise, when, while I was supervising him take a shower before going to school, he asked, “Mama, is this good for me?” He was referring to the shampoo/body wash that I told him to use.

Our family resolved to start going natural (and organic) as part of being intentional in caring for our environment. Since our “Aha!” moment last year (remember our newsletter that talked about becoming planet savers and not planet destroyers?) regarding the alarming rate of nature’s destruction, we decided to take our role in ecological stewardship seriously. I put together menus that were using more natural ingredients (no more mixes, instant noodles, microwavable food and artificial flavorings) and opted for home-cooked meals than fastfood value meals. Mang’s cousin introduced me to a health drink made of natural ingredients that addressed a lot of our health concerns, from the kids’ asthma and allergies, to Mang’s knee pain (possibly arthritic), to my vertigo. Even our choice of rice went from the milled white one to the organic brown kind. I found a product line of organic beauty and personal care products (like shampoo and body wash for adults and kids) as well as household cleaning items (like detergent, fabric conditioner and dish washing soap) which were very affordable.

I signed up as a dealer of these products only to get discounts, unaware of its added values. At the end of the first month that I and my family had been intentionally eco-friendly, I realized that we were healthier. We also saved a lot on medical expenses. In Filipino, this is what we call pagtitipid sa tama (saving up the right way). Not only did we save money, we also helped others learn about good stewardship of our bodies and our environment. Some signed up as dealers under me, too, eventually giving me a new business opportunity!

Though I learned the ropes of the business as well as imbibed the value of going natural, there were days when I had slip ups. And this was one of those days. I ran out of stock of the kids’ shampoo/body wash and there was no time to order. I decided to use the chemical-based brand which was readily available. “Mama, is this good for me?” Lian Ed inquired. He learned the importance of using natural products, not just from me but also from his school. In simple ways, he understood that certain soaps, shampoos and toothpastes can make him and the earth sick.

“Mama, is this good for me?”

“You mean taking a shower? Of course it is!”

“No, I mean this shampoo.”

What should I say? Do I say a little amount of it wouldn’t hurt? After all, that’s what the leading brands in the market are indirectly telling us: a white lie! How about you? How would you respond?

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Blessing of a "No"

I wrote this piece when my son Lian Ed was 8 months old. That was about six years ago. I still find it true to this day.

The Blessing of a ‘No’

If your children ask for a fish, which of you would give them a snake instead? Or, if your children ask for an egg, would you give them a scorpion? Even though you are bad, you know how to give good things to your children. How much more your heavenly Father…” (Luke 11:11-13b)

Now that I am already a mother, I started to appreciate more when God withholds something from me. From a parent’s perspective I have learned the wisdom of God’s denials of some of my requests and when he answers my prayers other than the way I wanted them to be answered.

At eight months old, Lian Ed has learned to go for what he wants and even scream in an effort to get it. Hard as it is to say ‘No,’ there are just times that I simply must deny my son of what he wants. It’s cliché, but it’s a timeless truth that parents always know what’s best for their children. I know that to give in to Lian Ed whenever he wants to be carried would eventually make him think that everything revolves around him and that people can just drop whatever they are doing in order to obey his bidding. Of course, when he grows older, he will realize that in this world, people don’t always do what we want and we don’t always get what we want. If we don’t say ‘No’ to our son, he would just put in his mouth whatever he gets hold of and may actually poison himself in the process. When he gets older, the poisons of life will take the form of fame, fortune, illicit use of sex, substance abuse, arrogance, bitterness, anger, bad company and many other things. If at an early age, he doesn’t learn to stay away from what he shouldn’t bite, then when he’s an adult it will be harder for him not to swallow whatever poison the world offers to him, especially if it is nicely garnished. If we don’t use the paddle to help him understand at times then we are sure to spoil our child and not teach him in the way he should go.

I thank God for He is a parent. Indeed, we earthly parents can give to our children the best because we have received the best from our Heavenly Father.