I lost a small battle of minds yesterday with my teenage son, standing amidst the spice-and-woodland fragranced deodorant in our local drugstore. His request was simple: back-up deodorant for his school sports bag, but he asked for a different one from the product picked up at Whole Foods he typically uses.
During the “empire years” I reigned over all household decisions, including the day’s activities and what was brought into our home—and now this man-boy in front of me had developed a life of his own and morphed a mind of his own as well. No longer buckled into the shopping cart, we stood eye-to-eye, surrounded by shiny floors and the smell of popcorn, and I knew I was losing ground. As I assessed the situation, my internal voice chattered:
Lecture? Naw. Won’t be effective.
I could beg. I had my livelihood to protect! Featured as the first Rockstar Advocate by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and now unable to persuade my teen on a deodorant? Would they repeal my title?
It’s deodorant Kristi. Your son can talk GMOs and styrene better than most adults. It’s tiny. Let it go...let it go….The cold never bothered me ...wait, focus Kristi.
Executive decision? No. Too short term. Need long-term answer. How do I want to train my kids to think? Teach them how to fish...make bread, whatever. What do I do, what do I do? Crap.
I pulled out my phone and opened up an app. This one called Think Dirty. It visually provided what my loss of words could not, a common language, and we started—together—to flip one mainstream deodorant after another to its backside and scanned the barcode for a ‘rating’ on their Dirty Meter. He grabbed the brand used by his friends. I took a whiff and it sent me back to my high school days where the man-boys were drenched in post gym class cologne. This deodorant was a 10, the worst on the app’s scale. Dang, even I didn’t expect that. The second, a nine. The only brand I could support offered in the twelve-foot display was a 4. Finally, whew.
“Mom, what do you want me to do?”
So this was the best I could do:
“I wish you would go to Whole Foods with me and choose a different brand as we have done in the past. Here, I would choose the best possible option. I cannot force you to do that. If you choose one of these, okay, but I cannot tell you I support it. You make great choices all the time, and in the future, you can use this app to help you out too. That’s all.”
Even after finding a cool app with which to engage my son, I lost to the imperfect world—to peer pressure, to my boy’s insistence to be a manly-man with a brand I don’t respect. However, I also won, as he had a new tool to navigate the world, and I had something better: a discussion and a growth experience with my son. In real time; not through a text.
I (discreetly) tucked the deodorant into the cart (underneath the 50 lb bag of dog food) and we moved toward the register.
“Are you mad?” he asked. Probably the look on my face.
“I am not mad at you, honey. You’re awesome. I love you. I think... I am mad that the world is the way it is. That we have to be doing this in the first place. That’s all.”
Then under my breath, I added, “I’m just going to have to go change the world instead.”
Admission: I feel mildly frustrated about once a week.
I feel significantly disheartened about every three months. Does this happen to you? Maybe if it was easy, we wouldn’t be dealing with this real-world issue in the first place. When we waver or feel crushed in our convictions, we have to remember we are part of something very big—tremendous, meaningful. We have to remember that we are not fighting alone—you are not the only parent who is battling the war-of-the-wills with your children when you shop. In those moments, I’d love you to recall this video; Every American’s Once Upon a Time, and use it as a tool to help you push onward.
Do one thing today.
Share this video with one person who creates a healthier world, in his or her own way. One person you admire or you follow, whether you know them personally or not. Choosing wiser, making little changes, or stepping up as protector of the people (even in your own home) is not easy.
Let them know how much you appreciate their efforts, how much we need them in order to continue writing the story of this life. And that we need them to ensure a happy ending.
Sometimes, just being noticed is all it takes and all we need. This random act of sharing will help re-energize their purpose. Your encouragement goes a long way. Promise.
Until next time - enjoy the journey.
Kristi Marsh is the founder and force behind Choose Wiser and a passionate speaker. Born and raised as a mainstream Pacific Coast soul, she now advocates for women's eco-health while raising her children in New England. Kristi delivers bite size doable changes for Everyday-Me's, creating healthier homes and bodies one little change at a time.