The Climate Crisis is Real, and the Cast of Characters are Expanding
August 30, 2023
by Dr. Plastic Picker
Last night, our family (the Dr. Plastic Picker family) was a family. I turned it off after having jumbled thoughts the entire day about my friend Prof Adam Aron and his upcoming train tour of the the US speaking about his book “The Climate Crisis.” He’s speaking at Harvard Medical School, invited by our former student Co-Founder of San Diego Pediatricians for Clean Air who is currently a student at Harvard Medical School. The webs of connection in our climate activism is very much based on where we are all from, which is San Diego. I had a small part in making that connection, and now it will happen. My part now is to drum up interest and some noise.
But back to our family. I turned it off for the afternoon and evening. I turned the noise off and I just looked at my pretty daughter. I watched her play JV Volleyball at La Jolla High School, sitting up on the bleachers and watching her play part of the 2nd set. They lost the game, but she had some good plays in there. And then I encouraged her to go to the 10th grade social for our little private school, and even made sure her father Mr. Plastic Picker showed up. So we showed up at the very fancy house owned by her friend’s family, with fancy families and we were simply ourselves. I talked climate with a few physicians, one of whom I know his younger brother well because we went to the same high school and I was in the same AP Calculus class. San Diego is an inordinately small world. I talked mostly girls and boys, as I was the parent who was shamelessly spying on the the group of 15-year-old boys and girls and also other genders – as they navigating the new social dynamics that some have had mini-glow-ups and full glow-ups or had simply taken a shower or gone further into puberty. They are all still children, and making these hard decisions about which activities to do, what I want to be when I grow up, vaping/drinking/sex, and am I going to jump on the trampoline when there are the other kids jumping on the trampoline?
Our daughter? She had her new curtain bangs, and her earrings and she finally wore a cute outfit. She had not wanted to go to the 10th grade social, but I encouraged her to go. And she had fun. She looked very cute in her jean shorts and demure top, but she simply had fun looking pretty and knowing others thought she was pretty – but mostly it was her friends opinion that she cared about. She talked about boys with the girls, when the boys were out of earshot. And isn’t it weird what puberty does to people? Suddenly your friend you’ve known since 4 years old, you can’t talk to? But at least they were in the same space, and oddly it felt so fun and healing as the kids were all smiling and having fun. For some reason, the dynamics were different and the kids will be different.
I realized something a few years ago. That the introverted ones like our family, we have to get out there. We have to mingle and get to know people, and it’s good for us too. And sometimes having the smart girl who happens to be pretty and not allowed to date, throwing her in with the cool kids is okay. She restores some of the balance of the social milieau and reminds everyone, it’s okay just to be a kid and it doesn’t have to all be about which elite college you are going to and who is likely to date who? Because our family’s agenda last night, was simply to eat some good food and not have to cook dinner. And we got to see friends we hadn’t really talked to and seen in years in the setting of a beautiful home of a generous family We might not agree with all the decisions other parents make raising their kids, but spending an evening together in a school sanctioned event is not going to derail our children.
Am I going to let her date? Heck no! But she can hang out at the social and look cute. And the other families can hear me prattle on about wildfires and climate, and physician wellness – because I am just who I am and we are the family that has been part of this community for over a decade.
Okay, off to send off some epic climate emails. Have to try to fill the room at Harvard Medical School with my friends – and can you believe it? The Children’s Trust contacted me and wants me to help gathering experts and data on the federal case Juliana vs. the United States. I replied back