You think you’re doing everything right as a parent. Your kid gets good grades, made the swim team (or would have if the high school had a pool), is making new friends, and is vocally judgmental enough of others’ food-choices that they might just reconsider eating processed meat. So, you give yourself a pat on the back…no, a HUG all the way around to feel the love your child has for you, the love that you know they will someday acknowledge when they grow up to become a pro-bono animal rights lawyer. It feels good. Then, without warning, it all comes crashing down
I was spraying down the kitchen counter with our homemade organic vinegar vegan cleaner when I noticed my daughter Juniper’s hemp backpack had fallen open on the floor. I reached down to pick it up and put it in her room, but my eyes fell on something just poking out one of the flaps. I gasped. It couldn’t be! Not my daughter! I’ve taught her better than this! Who gave it to her? How often is she doing it? And for how long? Could she be addicted? I thought I raised her right!!! Of course I blamed myself. My confidence as a mother was crushed. I had to confront Juniper about what I’d found. It wouldn’t be easy. These things are never easy for a mother and daughter to talk about. But eventually, you have to talk to your kids about the dangers of shopping at Wal-Mart.
“Uh, June…we need to talk. I found this-“
“You went through my stuff?!”
“No, you see, it was just open and I-“
“It’s not mine!”
“I’m just very concerned, Honey. Why?! Don’t you know Wal-Mart represents everything that’s wrong with the world? And that this plastic bag will kill 100 baby dolphins before it finally clogs the water pump of a poor African Village!?”
“Well…you see it was after school-I wasn’t planning on it-this group of people…We were all hanging out and someone wanted to go there so-“
“So you went with them? You gave into peer pressure to go to Wal-Mart?! If you’re going to give into peer pressure, why not choose something decent like smoking a joint or skipping school to go to Lilith Fair?”
“What decade are you from?”
“That’s not the point! I thought I raised you better than this!”
“Mom, it was my choice, and you’re the one who always talks about respecting and honoring the choices of our lives. Well, I honor this choice. I love this choice! This choice makes me feel attractive. I feel closer to my inner-Aphrodite than-“
“I always thought you were more of an Athena, but…wait, feel attractive?”
She looked down guiltily. I knew I hadn’t heard the worst of it. “I bought mascara.”
I couldn’t breath. “Mascara?! What are you planning to do with it? Do you even know how to use this? Wait, don’t answer that. I think-”
”Whatever-you don’t want me to be Aphrodite. You’d be happy if I was a Hestia for the rest of my life.”
“…just not where you can see it? Mom, I’m old enough to buy mascara, and yes I do know how to use it! I watched a tutorial on-line! I’m not a kid anymore.”
I looked at my Juniper. It was true. Her menses party was several years ago.
“I can almost accept that you’re wearing make-up, even though I don’t like it and think you’ll later regret trying to conform your outer appearance to a myriad of external, fractured and impossible standards. But to accept that a child of mine would purchase this at Wal-Mart…I…I just don’t know. I just….don’t know.”
“Look, we’ll just have to see differently on this, mom. You love Kale chips, and I prefer banana chips. You order anything we can’t grow from The Loving Gypsy, and I get mine in-person at Wal-mart.”
I sighed and sat down on her bed, ready to be more accepting of a different path when she dropped another bomb.
“Mom…there’s something else I didn’t tell you.”
“I don’t think I can take any-“
”While we were there, I checked out their groceries. They sell Kashi, mom. I was so excited that I told my friends. They’d never heard of it before. They thought organic meant someone had to poop in the dirt. When I told them what organic really was, some of them actually bought 7-grain cereal. They said it was ‘cool’ and they want to see our vegetable garden. See? I can still stand up for what we believe in. I can work in our garden and wear mascara. I can teach people about organic food in a Wal-Mart. I’m forging my own path, mom. Just like you always taught me.”
I looked again at my Juniper. Maybe I hadn’t done so bad after all. We embraced, and over her shoulder I noticed a copy of COSMO magazine wedged in between Women Who Run With the Wolves. I don’t remember exactly what happened next, but thank Gaia for my anti-anxiety herb garden.