Raising More Than a Garden

Two Multi-Cultural Mothers.... Two Viewpoints.... One Heart.... One Mind

Connie    ♥    Tawna

From the beginning, my husband and I have had a garden. The first several years, the
garden was small, but productive. Eventually, we moved to a property that allowed for a
very large garden. The large garden is all that any of our children remember. We’ve had a
lot of good memories created in that big garden.
We’ve also had a lot of headaches, a few heartaches and more than one surprise. I’ll never
forget the year we had thirty watermelons ripen all at once. After eating watermelon with
every meal for a week, we loaded up the wagon and set out delivering melons to the entire
neighborhood. Another year one of the boys decided to plant his pumpkin seeds in the
front flowerbeds. The result was a very festively ripe pumpkin harvest in October, and a
very amusing looking yard for the remainder of the season. In his defense, he did ask if he
could plant his seeds “anywhere” he wanted to. My lack of imagination was evident when
the pumpkins sprouted.
We’ve had some bad surprises, like the year a gopher moved in, ate all of the roots, and
killed the entire garden. There have been floods, droughts, and infestations of squash bugs.
And weeds. So many weeds. One year, early on, our neighbor pointed out to my husband
and I that we could simply spray the garden with weed killer, nearly eliminating the need
for weeding. My husband nodded his head in agreement and said, “True. True. I’ll do that
as soon as all I’m trying to raise out there are vegetables.”
Somewhere along the way, we realized that the garden was a great place for therapy,
bonding, learning and personal growth. The garden is a great place for conversation. For
some kids, particularly those with anxiety and attention issues, having something to do
with their hands frees up the mind for more effective communication. I noticed this was
the case for one of my children in particular. As such, I would schedule his garden chores
to coincide with mine. We would sit, pull weeds or harvest vegetables, and he would just
spill his guts! Some of our best conversations took place in the garden.
For kids who struggle in school, or with social and emotional issues, the garden offers a
chance for nonthreatening success. I remember watching as my little trauma survivor
lovingly cared for his corner of the garden. He planted his seeds and waited anxiously for
them to sprout. As the little seedlings poked their tips up out of the soil, he was thrilled. By
the end of the season, he was routinely telling anyone who would listen about his garden
and the vegetables and melons he was growing. We gave him guidance and a little help
from time to time, but the work isn’t so difficult that he couldn’t usually handle it himself.
For the first time, he was glowing with pride over something he accomplished on his own.
The garden offers healthy snacks on demand. Our garden was large enough that, as long as
they weren’t wasting the food, the kids had permission to pick and eat whatever fresh
veggies they wanted to. I can’t even begin to number the times I saw them run to the
garden, grab cucumber or tomato and head straight back to their play. It may not seem like
much, but this little activity fostered a sense of self-sufficiency in my kids. For my little
ones who survived trauma and deal with anxiety, the ability to handle the need for a snack
without asking for help or even for permission, helped them begin to see themselves as
capable.
In the garden, the kids learned how to work hard. We have spent countless hours in the
garden working as a family. From fertilizing, to planting, to weeding, to harvesting, to
clearing the ground, to tilling in plant material and starting all over again the next year, our
family has worked! It is important for kids to learn how to work. They need to know not
only how to discipline themselves to do what needs to be done, but also that they are
capable of doing it. Working in the garden helps the kids learn to delay gratification. The
garden helps the kids learn, in a very concrete way, that there are rewards to hard work.
Because the growing season is relatively short, kids can see the fruits of their labors and
directly link that back to the work they put in.
And finally, the time spent in the garden as a family can be so much fun. There is laughter,
joking, and not a little messing around. In the garden, the kids learn that working can be
fun, that we can depend on one another, that help is there when needed, and that their help
is wanted and needed. In the garden, we raise peas, tomatoes, cucumbers and our family.

We’ll be posting other ideas about how to teach self-government to your children and many other helpful hints, so join us next time in Crib Theories!! Please, follow us and share with others to help them in their quest to Nurture With Confidence and love.

As always, teach with spirit, guide with confidence and instill with love…

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