I wanted to be sure this series was inclusive of various perspectives when I started it, so I asked a few social media friends who I thought may have a perspective not always represented in commercials about cotton, etc. to contribute. Matt Peregoy of TheRealMattDaddy.com was one of the folks who came to mind. I met Matt through #DadChat on Twitter (he’s @RealMattDaddy).
He’s a dad who points out the absurdity of people saying a dad will be babysitting — whether its a mom or dad spending time with their kids, they are parenting. I really respect that he speaks up for a viewpoint that hasn’t always been the mainstream but is becoming more common everyday. I love how Matt ends the post and would love to know your answer to his question!
When Janice asked me to write some thoughts from a dad’s point of view about cotton, I really wasn’t sure what it would lead to. I usually write things that are creative and funny on my own blog. How creative and funny can I be about a plant that looks like this?
But after thinking about it for a while, I realized that I truly take for granted all of the things that are made of cotton. Heck, it was probably the way my wife looked in those cotton jeans that made me interested in getting to know her back in high school! Now that I’m an at-home dad, I literally use dozens of things that are made of cotton every single day.
When I wake up in the morning to the sound of my toddler yelling for us to wake up, I throw off my cotton sheets, put on my cotton t-shirt, shorts and socks, and go change my daughter’s diaper using wipes and diapers that both contain cotton. After getting her out of her cotton pajamas and into some comfy clothes that most likely contain cotton, we head downstairs for breakfast. After breakfast, my daughter watches Sesame Street on a couch with a cotton-stuffed pillow while holding her Sesame Street plush characters that, no doubt, include cotton fibers. When I’m finished cleaning up the dishes, we usually go outside dressed in our cotton sweat shirts. I could literally walk you through my entire cottony day like this!
Living in one of the richest nations in the world, we have the benefit of seeing a finished product when we put on our favorite pair of jeans. We don’t see the process that a cotton boll goes through in order to turn into those jeans. I have tried to teach my daughter important things like where her food comes from, that gardening and self sufficiency are important, and we have a responsibility to be good stewards of our resources. I also want her to learn that every finished product has a beginning, and that beginning usually starts with some kind of farmer whether corn, cotton, livestock or even trees. I don’t want to raise a child that is blissfully unaware of what she is consuming. I’d like her to be conscious of that and be doing her part to be a responsible steward of the planet she lives on.
I don’t just want her to know that Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin and the cotton farmer’s biggest enemy is the boll weevil; I want her to know that cotton is a resource, like all other crops, that is to be responsibly managed, responsibly harvested, and not wasted. I want her to get the connection that behind every piece of cotton fabric is a farmer working hard to make that raw material. I’ll do my part to teach my kid. Will you do yours?
Stephen Abbott says
One of the best things we can do for our kids from an early age is to show them where we get the food and ‘stuff’ in our lives, and what it takes to put it in our hands. Your cotton example is a perfect one; it shows the huge range of things we use every day that start as a ball of fluff plucked from a plant. Seeing the process of a natural resource to a product on the shelf also helps them understand the value of creativity in problem solving from an historic perspective, while possibly revealing a problem we still need to solve.
As a suburban city kid, I make sure we visit farms and talk to farmers (not just the people working the market store) and buy their products. My son knows that ketchup doesn’t just come from ‘aisle 6’. We try to visit local farms on any trip, or to take factory tours when possible.
Janice Person says
Thanks for the compliment – Matt’s story was awesome, as is his blog usually. If you ever make it to my part of the world, give me a shout. I live in St. Louis now and since I work in agriculture, I love talking about it here on my blog alongside other topics. Cotton has bee a place for me to call home for a couple of decades, though I was raised a total city kid myself. I’ve gotten the chance to see so many parts of agriculture and I try to share them here for my city friends and others to enjoy.
Bruce Sallan says
Like that you’re using my column name JP! Cool…
Janice Person says
That was Matt’s title though I did choose to spell out POV LOL. You are still able to give a dad’s POV on cotton too…. in fact, you are encouraged to do just that!
Suzie Wilde says
Matt, we need a few million more dads like you out there! With most folks being so far removed from the source of their food and fiber, both by miles and generations, we must help them get that connection back to the farm and the farmers. You forgot to mention that the toothpaste you use everyday has a cotton component in it too!
Janice Person says
He does rock! And you know as a cotton farmer, I’m accepting guest posts for a while…. so you could get to writing one about that toothpaste or something LOL!
The Real Matt Daddy says
Thank you all for the kind words. I accepted the opportunity to write this guest post without the intention of getting all serious, but I couldn’t help it. I just had to go there. I’m just very passionate about sustainability and self-sufficiency. Thanks again, JP for the opportunity.
@Bruce – You should have trademarked that phrase before I stole it!
Janice Person says
I love that you are willing to show your serious side too Matt!