Reefs of Coral

In addition to his increased interest in nutrition and well-being, the Gort is also a budding environmentalist.

His elementary school had a Scholastic Book Fair a few months ago. I decided to ‘do my part’ and purchase some books to support the school. As I browsed the carefully displayed selection, I came across a book with bright fish on the cover.

The title said something about coral reefs and I snapped it up. I thought the little man, being somewhat interested in fish, might enjoy learning about coral reefs. After all, we’d seen a fun movie at the Science Museum several months earlier and he’d seemed excited about the creatures…..and whatnot.

So I went home with my purchase(s) in hand, excited to foster a ‘love of learning’ within my child.

It didn’t go quite as I expected.

First, he showed zero interest in the book. To the extent that he refused to even look at it. But, two days later he grew bored of his reading material and decided to give it a chance.

We sat together on the couch. One of us a little more excited than the other as I prepared to expose him to the wonderful world of coral reefs.

And the first twenty seven pages were fun. Colorful images. Interesting facts about the different kinds of coral and where the coral reefs are located etc, etc, etc. And…..then we got to page 28.

There was something about the usefulness of coral reefs followed by: ‘But coral reefs are in danger! And the enemy is us.’

Danger and enemy in the same sentence? Oh boy. Caught slightly off-guard, I took a second look at the book’s cover. Sure enough, I’d seen the ‘Coral Reefs’ bit, but had missed the ‘In Danger‘ part which is printed in a smaller font underneath the first two words.

We continued reading….about fishermen using dynamite, and pollution and fertilizer seeping into soil and global warming and greenhouse gases…..

‘..people have been adding more and more of these gases to the atmosphere. How? We release these gases……when we drive CARS.

Dum dum duuuuuuuuuum.

Emphasis mine, but in eight short pages the book had gone from fun and informative to… indictment on human behavior. What a downer.

I’m not living under a rock, I get it, humans suck and we drive gas guzzling cars and use air conditioning and heating in our homes. And this has implications for our environment. But I really wanted to see pictures of pretty fish, and learn more about staghorn coral and finger coral.

Like scuba diving, only without the water.

I wasn’t in the mood to learn about how coral bleaches when it becomes too warm and how bleaching ‘can be a sign that the coral is about to DIE’.

Dum dum duuuuuuuuum.

So ever since, the Gort has worked his minimal knowledge of coral reefs and environmental issues into almost daily conversation. He can often be heard asking-reminding, ‘what about the coral reefs….they’re dying?!’

So, because we are excellent parents, we’ve decided to use his environmental campaign against him. I mean we’re as worried about the coral reefs as he is. Which is why we remind him of their imminent demise every time he leaves the bathroom light on. Which he does almost constantly.

So the professor is often heard saying ‘hey, turn the light off….remember the coral reefs?!’

Unfortunately the Gort has recently recalled another fact from the book: that there aren’t any coral reefs near Canada. That they’re generally confined to warm, salty water.

Not frozen water.

I sense the wheels are turning in his head: since there aren’t any reefs nearby, maybe he doesn’t need to worry about turning off lights. Or ‘riding his bike’ instead of taking the car.

I think our days of threatening him with bleached coral might be numbered.


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