When we take our children into the garden with us, we have visions of them skipping around merrily digging up weeds, gladly watering their little plant babies carefully nurtured from seed, harvesting just the right amount of food for dinner and delighting in eating the things that they grew with their own little hands.
So. If you have any number of your own small people you may have already noticed some surprising discrepancies with your vision and reality. Drowning seedlings anyone? How many entire packets of seeds have YOUR cherubs unceremoniously dumped into a patch of soil the size of a postage stamp? Or rammed countless delicate tiny seeds into a hole the size of the grand canyon? Do you also find you can't bribe then into a love of weeding but they will gleefully 'harvest' a green tomato taking an entire truss with it? I feel you friend, I feel you hard. But I am here as a cheerleader and advocate for tiny plant terrorists everywhere and I am telling you it. Is. Worth. It. Because what a world they're going to have to navigate and what better teacher than nature.
The thing with small people is they watch when you think they're not watching, when you think they're doing secret child stuff, they're like little hawk/sponge hybrids, absorbing and learning, and there's so much wisdom in the veg patch.
They will learn to go slowly and carefully when needed. They will learn patience and mindfulness. They will learn to notice and see how nature speaks if we know what to listen for - and they will want to protect it. They will learn that rain doesn't stop play because we gardeners navigate all weathers and eventually, the storm will always pass. They will learn to let it go when things don't go the way they planned. They will learn that convenience isn't 'all that' and there's much more joy in a head of cauliflower nurtured from seed than all the instant gratification in the world. They will learn that we don't waste the things we worked so hard to grow. We share, we support, we are generous. They will learn community. They will learn kindness.
So stick with it because it's worth the drowned seeds and the heavy handed seedling abuse you'll have to go through to get there. And while you wait for all these wonderful lessons to take root and grow - there’s always gin.
Blog written and shared with permission by Terri Steele @wet_out_west. A keen mud enthusiast, play advocate, vegetable gardener and mother of two preschoolers.