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I Am Mommy, Hear Me Roar

Yesterday morning, Cora and I went to the
park for some play time. We had the playground to ourselves and
Cora was happily making acorn soup when I noticed little yellow
balls mixed in with the wood chips that comprise the
“carpet” of the playground. I thought at first that
they were yellow Nerds or some similar candy that had been spilled
right there, but I quickly discovered they were throughout the
playground. They were fertilizer.

I cleaned off a slide with a particularly large pile that Cora
discovered – “Look, Mommy, candy!” - dribbling
the contents – 3 parts fertilizer to 1 part wood chips
– into my pocket, and put the whole thing into a plastic
baggie when I got home. I carefully labeled the bag with our park
name and set it aside.

A few hours later, while the girls took
their naps and a neighbor sat watch inside the house, I marched
over to city hall and walked into the Parks and Recreations
division. “Can I help you?” someone politely asked.
“Yes, please,” I responded equally politely, “May
I speak to someone in charge of park and playground

Seconds later a nice man came out. “How can I help
you?” he asked after introducing himself.

I held up the baggie. “Can you please tell me what’s in
this bag?”

He studied it. “That looks like some fertilizer, chemical
pesticide, and a few wood chips.”

I nodded. “I see. Can you tell me why it’s on my
child’s playground?”

He blanched. “I have no idea. There shouldn’t be any
pesticides or fertilizer on the playgrounds, only the parks. Are
you sure it was on the playground area?”

I politely made it clear that I was, in fact, sure it was on the
playground area. He assured me that this was not policy and someone
had made a mistake, apologizing profusely. I took advantage of the
opportunity to press for a policy change regarding the parks as
well – chemical pesticides and fertilizers absorbed through
children’s bare feet and hands have been definitively linked
to several non-genetic cancers in babies and children, and I
don’t want them anywhere near where my kids run and turn

Fifteen interesting minutes later, I knew my city is, in fact,
making strides towards becoming much more environmentally (and
child!) friendly. And as for the city employee, he asked for my
name and email address so he could have me in to address other
employees and decision-makers who are, let’s say, less earth-
(and child!) friendly. And I have great hope that three years from
now, pesticides and fertilizers will be banned from public lawns in
my city.

I didn’t wake up yesterday morning ready to change the world,
any more than I usually do. But I saw that fertilizer, and saw my
baby trying to put it in her mouth, and I saw red. Poisoning our
oceans is bad enough – poison our kids, and the gloves will
come off. You mess with the bull, you get the horns.

Ok, so mommy cows don’t have horns, but you get the idea.


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