Spring Clean Up (Home School Lessons in Trash Collecting)

Spring clean up

At long last, our exceptionally cold and lingering Canadian winter seems to have fallen asleep deep underground, allowing the grass to green above it in preparation for a summer of picnics and play.

During the first day of warmer temperatures a week or so ago, my daughters came running back to the house after only a few minutes outdoors, demanding that I retrieve their little red wagon from the garage, along with gloves for them to wear.

“Is it still cold outside on the playground?” I asked.

“No! We have to go clean the park!” My eldest informed me. Melted snow had revealed five months worth of trash that, according to the girls, “needed” to be urgently cleaned up.

You simply cannot imagine how pleased I was with them when they returned home over an hour later having filled their wagon with paper cups, plastic bottles and pieces of litter ranging in size from that of a cigarette filter to that of a large take-away food container.

The sad reality of my poor wisdom hit me as I realized I had not sent them out with a few important guidelines for park and playground clean-up. Celebrating their initiative and achievement, I also cautioned, “Girls, if you ever see anything that looks like a plastic syringe ~ the kind you play with in your medical kit ~ never touch it, ok? Not even with gloves.” Knowing all about the worry of diseases from their aunt (a scientist renowned for her HIV/AIDS and Malaria research), they easily promised they would immediately call me to retrieve any syringes they may one day find.

Then, in my mind, I danced around how I would delicately caution them about another filthy reality of trash in our 21st Century. A disgustingly discarded item that sometimes sickens shaded public places and even remote hiking trails.

“…and Beyti,” I continued, “if you ever see anything that is plastic and looks like a deflated balloon or rubber glove, never ever touch it. Call me right away to scoop it up with a spade. OK?”

“But what are they?” she asked ~ as I hoped she would not.

“They are from the pharmacy ~ are very dangerous and very dirty.” I retorted with ambiguity, disguised behind emphatic fatherly confidence.

The next day, after heading out to the park, my daughters were surprisingly back home again within minutes.

“Davie! You have to come quickly!” (Yes, my daughters call me “Davie”. We’re a very eccentric family, in case you hadn’t noticed.) “Someone threw a pile of garbage in the park today and there is one of those things you told us about…like a plastic balloon with no air!”

Yuck. The hairs on my neck rose as I shut my eyes and shuttered with nausea. Getting up from my desk, I put on my cardigan, slipped on my shoes and ventured with my excited, pony-tailed park rangers to the playground.

“Where did you see it Bayti?” I asked as I winced, worried of what we’d find. In my mind I grumbled about the nature of people who get their kinky-kicks in a parking lot late at night, then simply toss away their vending machine insurance policies to an area where children play. The back seat of a borrowed car is a lot cheaper than a hotel room for the limited budgets of some libido driven individuals ~ I get that… and far be it from me to judge the life-style choices of consenting adults ~ even if I disagree with some of those choices! But for the love of Pete! Toss your rubber rubbish in a bin ~ not out the car window into a place where kids might find it or worse, pick it up to inspect it inquisitively!

“It’s over there see? That pile in the tennis court?” My daughter directed me.

“That big pink thing!” I asked with confusion.

“Yes! See, it is just like you said ~ plastic and like a balloon without air.”

And indeed it was ~ but this was no average drug-store dollar contraceptive. It was a large, fuchsia deflated kiddie pool.

Laughing to myself and sighing with relief I commended my daughters on doing as I had asked them to do and was happy to be the father of such tremendously socially responsible children ~ still in possession of their beautiful innocence.

But I still couldn’t help watching my step as we walked home through puddles of spring thaw.

Categories: Community, Family, Homeschooling, Personal Philosophy, Struggles & Setbacks, To Hike and The Like

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4 thoughts on “Spring Clean Up (Home School Lessons in Trash Collecting)

  1. Mike Millard

    Sorry Dawud, but I most definitely had a few chuckles at your expense while reading this most uplifting post. Oh to be so young and innocent again that we are not over-thinking ourselves into even more grey hairs. And kudos to your beautiful children for their social responsibility and boundless energy

  2. parigi1983

    Absolutely hilarious & very socially responsible 😉 ! I pray the Most Merciful blesses your little family.

  3. Hahaha…thanks Mike. Chuckles are most welcomed! Hoping you and Ruth are well. Been too long since we last chatted or caught up. Perhaps this summer you can help me see if the old canoe I bought last autumn still floats?

  4. mariah

    Salam br Dawud, pray your Ramadhan is filled with peace and blessings.

    I couldnt help the little laugh that escaped my lips whilst reading this and was glad for the sigh of relief as I came to the end.
    A truly enlightening read but your moments of anguish came through!

    It brought to light that conflict we have raging within ourselves when it comes to our little ones.
    That constant battle to keep them protected in the world of Innocence but at the same the need to let them into the world of experience from time to time.
    And as much as we’d love to keep them in their swaddling bands we want to let them go to be free and to explore for themselves but sadly the world we live in means they have to be exposed to the harsh reality of the gloom of experience far sooner than they should be.
    Reassuring it is though that their sweet innocence still shines through 🙂

    Was a pleasure to meet you once again in Leicester on your most recent tour. My daughter was overjoyed that she met the man who she thinks personally sings to her in the car. I haven’t got the heart to tell her otherwise :-‘).

    Thanks for signing the lyrics board, as promised will scan and send over soon inshallah.

    Best wishes to you and your family.

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