Parenting in the Garden

They are toddlers, and only two of them. I take with me to the garden, showing them the plants I’ve already planted, letting them help with the last few–my hands over theirs, patting the dirt into place. No one cries, no one needs a fresh diaper before we were done; it is a successful day.

Then there are three, one in a stroller and two sharing the hose. I show them how to separate the roots–“This way the roots can spread out and grow better.”–and together we pat the dirt into place.

Soon they turn the plants out of the pots themselves, spreading the roots, placing them so carefully into the holes I dug. We chat about what will grow–the tomatoes we will preserve and how the strawberries are already forming berries.

Today, I stand at one end of the row, watching them dig the holes, turn out the plants, and place them. The oldest tells the youngest, “Spread out the roots so it can get growing right away,” and she complies. The middle turns to me: “Does this hole look deep enough?” and I nod, and I think how next year they could do this themselves.

They are almost ready.

I think about the plants we’ve planted tonight: those extroverted tomatoes that spread all over if you let them, but burst forth with riotously colored fruits; the quieter zucchini introvert that stays in place and hides its produce under giant leaves; early producing rhubarb–tart, but can be sweetened; the potatoes and onions that give their produce last–but it lasts through the winter. I see these characteristics in my children.

I see my children in my garden. We train them, prune them back, water, weed, wait. We show them what we want from them, then trust God will bring the harvest.

 

 

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