Post By RozieDozie
Worms Wiggle, Lady Bugs Don’t Bite and Radishes Can Be Purple: Gardening With Children
Have you played in your garden lately, smelled the basil, watched bees buzz in blossoms without worrying about possible vine collapse? If not, then share your garden with a child. Any child; yours or a borrowed one.
When my children were young, we spent our summers gardening together without a single whine of “all my friends are at the swimming pool”” or “I hate squash, why are you forcing me to pick that prickly, yucky stuff???” My children are grown now and have magnificent gardens thanks to me, their first gardening teacher….
AND NOW, THE REAL STORY….
One summer, when my children were school age, I decided we would turn a backyard patch into fresh vegetables for ourselves and, overly optimistically, our neighbors. Exercise, good food, citizenship; GARDENING!!! A VACATION LEARNING EXPERIENCE!!!
I shared The Fun-in-the Sun Plan with my children. It was met with Rolling Eyes followed by a feet-dragging, why-are-you-making-me-do-this trip through the feed and seed store. Undaunted, we forged ahead, seeding and weeding and waiting for things to grow. And I waited for the joy and enthusiasm to kick in and the kids waited for their mother’s Happy About Children attitude to come back.
Two more summers of Starting Over were no better, so I reluctantly gave up teaching my children to garden. Years later, when some left home and eagerly chose to live in Totally Plant Free High-Rises Overlooking Concrete, Mother’s Guilt and Remorse reminded me “ YOU SHOULD HAVE TRIED HARDER TO TEACH THEM TO GARDEN….” This was soon followed by the Universal Mother’s Lament “IF I ONLY COULD DO THINGS OVER AGAIN….”
And then, suddenly, a Reprieve! A Marvelous Gift of Second Chance… GRANDCHILDREN!!!
From the moment those precious little Grandbaby Hands could grasp a trowel, they toddled after me in the garden, dug for worms, and poured water over the “flowies”. Together, we tasted the purple radishes, admired lady bugs and blew on ripe dandelions, allowing the garden to speak to them and lure them in its own special way, through all of their senses. Happily, without pressure, they touched, smelled, tasted, listened, saw and learned.
Nary was one word uttered about “work” or “planting in the lines”. We simply enjoyed ourselves. For these Second Chance Children, I introduced the garden as a fun place, an opportunity to play together, and, finally, finally I reaped the reward of enthusiasm and joy as well as the unique pleasure of experiencing my garden through a child’s eyes.
Have I done for my Grandchildren what I didn’t do for my children? Have I passed on a legacy of growing things that will inspire my grandsons and granddaughters to be gardeners and seed savers and appreciators of the miracle of plenty and abundance that comes from one unique, well-tended embryonic seed? I dunno.
But I’m convinced that showing children how to enjoy and play in the garden is the first step in teaching them to grow things, whether you do it on your First or Second Time Around.