Indoctrination overdose or pushover parenting? It's hard to tell.

In the Pacific Standard mom Ronnie Cohen explains why she's not shedding any empty-nest tears as son "Cory" leaves for college on the East Coast:

I can do nothing right in my teenage son’s eyes. He grills me about the distance traveled of each piece of fruit and every vegetable I purchase. He interrogates me about the provenance of all the meat, poultry, and fish I serve. He questions my every move—from how I choose a car (why not electric?) and a couch (why synthetic fill?) to how I tend the garden (why waste water on flowers?)—an unremitting interrogation of my impact on our desecrated environment. While other parents hide alcohol and pharmaceuticals from their teens, I hide plastic containers and paper towels….

[M]y son wipes his oily, pizza-stained hands on his jeans or an upholstered dining room chair, or…leaves a sticky trail of locally grown organic orange drippings from the kitchen to the dining room because he wants to save a napkin.

I have stopped buying oranges….

Cory’s BFF (my term, not Cory’s) had already taken on the role of eco-warrior. He worked on a successful campaign to ban plastic bags in our town—Fairfax, California, that hippie haven—and lobbied against GMOs. He drove an electric car; once, when my son was a passenger, it ran out of charge on a rural road eight miles from home. (I had to go pick him up.)

Cory and his BFF built a self-sustaining aquaponic garden to raise vegetables and fish for their high school cafeteria. They were more interested in protests than parties and attended a compostable toilet-making workshop instead of a dance.

I knew Cory had met his match when the BFF came for dinner (vegetarian, naturally), emerged from the bathroom with his hands dripping, and declined a towel. Neither paper nor cloth would be necessary, he insisted, while I watched the water from his hands trickle onto my hardwood floor. Like an untrained puppy, he appeared blind to the puddles he left in his wake as I followed behind him mopping at his heels….

In a desperate bid for comic relief, I took Cory and his BFF to see the Book of Mormon in San Francisco. At intermission, I purchased a plastic bottle of Crystal Geyser water. As I plunked down my $3.50, it dawned on me that I might be making a dreadful mistake. When I returned to my seat, my son looked down his nose at the half-filled bottle, crossed his arms over his chest and one leg over the other, then swiveled his body and his legs away from me. He remained in that position for the entire second act.

As we left the theater, he nudged the empty water bottle with his fist and asked, “Why did you buy that?”

“I was really, really, really thirsty,” I whispered.

Soon after, Cory revealed plans for a home remodeling project. On our front porch, he wanted to do something called “peeponics.”

Once he explained that it involved storing our household urine as fertilizer, I was too upset to be able to hear more.

"There will be no pee-saving in this house," I exclaimed.

"NO,” my son retorted. “I'm doing peeponics!"

"You're going to put your pee on my porch?” I asked.

"You can use it to fertilize your garden,” he replied calmly.

"You want to pee on my garden?"

"You bought a plastic water bottle in front of my friend.”

Ronnie, are you sure this kid isn't actually named "Damien"?

But shed no tears for mom Ronnie. Seems that Cory got his training in Enviro-Nazism 101 from…his mother.

I began to sow the seeds when I decided to buy organic food. I figured it was healthier, and I wanted to do my tiny part to stop contaminating our soil and groundwater with toxic chemicals. I explained this to Cory as he sat in his high chair while I fed him Earth’s Best organic pears from a 2.5-ounce jar. We were listening to Raffi sing “Evergreen, Everblue” as he implored us to “help this planet Earth.” “At this point in time,” he sang, “it’s up to me, it’s up to you.”

Raffi’s pleas blended with similar entreaties in Dr. Seuss’ the Lorax. The shortish, brownish, oldish, and mossy Lorax spoke for the trees, the Truffula trees on the brink of extinction, exhorting my son to take action. “UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better,” I read to Cory. “It’s not.”

We discussed the book’s lessons on our strolls down the Whole Foods aisles. As I pushed him in the shopping cart, I explained that we would buy the green apples because they were organic and not the red ones because they were grown conventionally, with bad bug-killing chemicals.

So Cory, you might say, is a green apple that didn't fall too far from the tree. And I'm sure that hippie high school with the hydroponic fish tank and the compost-toilet class didn't help.

But really! What kind of mother lets her kid wipe his hands on an armchair or cleans up after–instead of throwing out of the house–his friend who drips water all over the floor? And I can think of some imaginative things I'd want to do with that "peeponics" bottle.

And if Cory seems isufferable right now, just think what he's going to be like when he comes home for the holidays from that trendy college back East.