Like most kids do to their parents, my son often asks me questions that leave me speechless. Like when he asked: "What will happen to us, Mum, if Earth dies?"
I stared at him and smiled, trying to will the worry away from his little five-year-old face: “We are trying hard to make it survive," I said.
As a mother you always want to protect and reassure your child - it’s innate in our nature. But sometimes, it seems, children are the ones we could learn from.
Big lessons from little people
Yesterday, while driving my son back from school, I asked him what would he like to do on Earth Day, and was there a special present that he had in mind to give Mother Earth?
He looked out of the window in silence, mulling it over. Then a tiny voice rang out from the back seat: "Why just on that day, Mum? Shouldn’t we celebrate the planet every day?"
Well, he had a valid point.
But I was the parent here, surely I should be the one teaching the lessons. So I said, "Well we do celebrate every day, my love: by saving electricity, using less water, recycling and using reusable bags. But Mummy celebrates you every day also - yet I still love celebrating your birthday too. It's just that day is extra special. I guess you can think of Earth Day as Earth's birthday."
But my curious child didn't stop there.
"So how old is Mother Earth then?" he asked, "and what present will make her happy on her special day?"
Speechless for a moment once again, I gathered my thoughts. I said, "Well Mother Earth is definitely older than Mummy, Daddy and Granny. But we've only been celebrating her birthday every year since 1971, when one very kind-hearted gentleman named Nelson decided to voice Mother Nature’s feelings."
While my curious little one got lost in his thoughts, I started pondering myself: Are we really being fair to Mother Earth? Are we really giving her the presents/respect she deserves?
A peek into the future?
A chill ran through my spine as the car stopped outside our house and I realised that some of the trees around our neighbourhood were missing. Under ordinary circumstances I probably wouldn’t pay it much attention, but because we had already been talking about this topic it felt somehow ominous. I could not help but notice the lack of shade, how the pavement was suddenly exposed to the midday sun.
"Mum, do you think we will have to use oxygen tanks wherever we go by the time I grow up, instead of face masks?"
His question took me by surprise. I gawked at him and asked, "Why, love?"
"Well the trees that used to be here are dead now, right? So if all trees die like the ones next to our house, how will we get the oxygen to breathe?"
Such a little mind with such big thoughts, I marveled, making me reflect on something so simple yet profound.
But again, I'm the parent here. It's my job to reassure him.
After a pause, I said, "There is enough and more for everyone and we won’t let that happen, I promise."
Our parental legacy
But is that promise I can keep? It’s the 51st Earth Day today, and every year millions of people celebrate by fighting for different causes in the name of saving the planet. Almost 192 countries participate every year - it's one of the largest civic observances in the world. But imagine if all 7.9 billion of us participated and guaranteed to save Mother Earth and to look after her like a mother would look after a newborn child. Would we finally see a massive transformation ?
2) Educating ourselves and becoming more aware of Mother Earth
3) Prohibiting the use of plastic as much as we can
4) Planting more trees
5) Composting at home
6) Using reusable bags wherever possible
7) Choosing more wooden reusable toys for kids
8) Eating natural and seasonal vegetable and fruits
9) Saving water wherever possible
10) Buying fewer, more sustainable clothes
11) Use electricity wisely
Once we got into the house, my little boy still could not let the topic go. “Mum, what if Mother Earth spoke to us, what would she say?”
I hugged my little man and said, “She would say ‘Thank you’ for looking after me and don’t stop, even if you feel you are the only one who cares, because each one of you counts, and every step now makes a bigger step later.”
I always knew that if we really want our children to help us save Mother Earth, we need to allow them to first love nature. But, it seems, my son is already way ahead of me.
Remember: we don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children. And there is no Planet B.