When I decided that the world was a messed up place, that Peak Oil is a reality and there will come a time in the not-too-distant future when cheap energy will be a thing of the past, and that we have, indeed, entered the time known as TEOTWAWKI, I thought my family would just hop on the bandwagon with me, and we'd all happily bump along the road toward lower-energy and self-sufficient living.
That's what I thought.
I thought wrong.
In fact, until very recently, my continued suggestions that we toss the television, VCR and DVD player to the curb have been met with a great deal of dissention. Ironically, we haven't had cable television for a very long time, and in fact the only thing the TV has done in the past six months is provide the audio/video output for the DVD player and VCR.
And it has galled the heck out of me, because every time that television goes on, I hear "cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching" as the electric meter outside starts its faster revolutions.
I've been relentless, though, in my suggestion that we don't need it, that we have alternatives, and I think that my suggestion is finally being heard. In the last few weeks, the television has been silent and cold, while the girls are more carefully exploring Netflix! ... and the heavenly choir chants aaahhh.
The thing about powering down with kids (and other reluctant family members) is being careful to assure them that their lives don't have to be negatively impacted by the changes we're making now, in the hopes that when we do end up in a full-blown world-wide energy crisis/collapse (like what Cuba experienced not too long ago), we're already at a point where we can weather the worst with perhaps only a couple of hiccups in the way we live our lives.
The other aspect to the whole powering down is to include them in the process. Like the garden. There are simply too many examples in history where food scarcity became a problem, but I don't want to fill my children with fear that, someday, we may not be able to eat. The message I want to give them is one of empowerment. Look, we're growing our own food! How, totally, cool is it that we can ACTUALLY grow food that we actually eat?!? They think it's cool.
And they're not the only ones who think the fact that we grow food is kinda of cool. Last summer, Big Little Sister had a friend stay overnight during the Ballet Seminar week, and in the morning, when they were getting ready to go to class, one of their tasks was to help prepare lunch for themselves - as they were going to be in class for the whole day with a break for lunch, and so they needed to pack something. Big Little Sister and her friend went outside and picked raspberries for their lunch ... from our bramble, in the back yard. She told me later that her friend's fondest memory of that year's seminar was picking raspberries for their lunch.
Having friends who appreciate some of the quirky things we do helps out a lot, because peer pressure is a huge factor when it comes to how children view their lives, and indeed, often, themselves.
But it's also helpful that Deus Ex Machina and I are so matter-of-fact about what we're doing, and we make the changes slowly, so that it's not like, yesterday we had all of the soda we could drink and today it's completely outlawed. In fact, we never did outlaw soda entirely. There's no more Coca-Cola brand or Pepsicola brand soft drinks coming into this house, but we do allow Maine Root or Cap't Eli's sodas (and both of those are okay, because they're produced here in Maine - and the Maine Root sodas do not use corn syrup (or corn sugar) as a sweetner or benzoates as preservatives :).
There may come a time when we no longer have the ability to take it slow and allow our girls to acclimate to one change before we make the next one, but while we're able to slowly change to a more self-sufficient, lower energy lifestyle, we intend to take advantage of it.
They say it takes a month for a new habit to be adopted, which kind of makes the whole one-small-change-at-a-time thing even more logical, because we make one change, and then, live with it until it becomes habit, and then, change something else.
Now, we're all accustomed to not having cable television, and the girls are growing used to not turning on the television at all - opting, instead, to download something from Netflix ... or just do something else entirely (which is even better). In a couple of weeks, perhaps, the television, DVD player and VCR will find their way to Goodwill ... or some lucky person on FreeCycle will be the proud new owner of our once-upon-a-time, well-loved livingroom centerpiece.
As for me, I'll just be happier knowing that the little wheel on the meter outside is turning more slowly ... and my girls don't feel in the least bit deprived.