October 14, 2009
Next Friday, I'm meeting with my daughters' principal. The meeting isn't directly about my kids, though if not for them I wouldn't be going. This time, my daughters didn't do anything wrong, nor anything particularly wonderful, nor even cause trouble on the playground, but I'm nervous about the meeting, anyway. I've rallied the troops and called in reinforcements, making waves at school, in advocacy for the schoolyard weeds.
For the last several years, I have received notices from school, supposedly telling me when and where a pesticide would be applied to the school grounds. I've looked at them for all this time, and so far, have read and ignored them, because the pesticides have been aimed at mulched areas in front. Some ofthe herbicides bother me more than others, but since all have involved spaces that my children didn't directly contact, and which I didn't really want to hand-weed as a volunteer, I ignored the notices.
Last week's notice, which I got on a Wednesday afternoon, was different. On the space where it told "where," the answer in bold was "lawns," and that single answer made me look twice. Lawns are where my kids play. School yard lawns are supposed to have flowers and weeds, because those provide entertainment for children. Plantain, dandelion, clover: these are schoolyard weeds which every kid should know, even if no one at school knows the Latin for them.
I then looked up the EPA registration on the herbicide, MEC something or other -- herbicide trade names are always changing, with new combinations and ratios so variable that no one could expect to follow the market, any more than we expect to recognize companies on a 2-bit stock exchange. I looked at the active ingredient, just as anyone in a drug store knows to look for acetaminophen on the generic Tylenol. And I looked again, in shock: the ingredient was 2,4-D.