Thursday's Child: Playing in the Dirt & Gardening
Have you started a garden at your house? We have a container garden that we started last week. Both the boys were thrilled to help clean up the old window boxes by pulling grass out of them and just tossing it off the deck into the weeds behind the building. (My youngest seems to have a pretty good throwing arm, because he was whipping those clods of dirt and grass pretty far into those weeds.) Some friends of mine are a bit nervous about having their kids out in the garden with them. They worry about their littles pulling up important plants or messing around with stuff that shouldn't be touched (like poison ivy). I was worried about this at first too.
Then it occurred to me that my kids are going to play in the dirt no matter what. It's just a thing that kids do. So, I put that desire to dig and pull up what they decided were weeds to use. Last year, we had a little difficulty with them pulling up my forget-me-nots. But, they learned pretty quickly what they were allowed to pull and it was a one-time incident. They were especially happy to help water things. We don't have an outdoor hose hookup. So, it was either I lugged around a 3 gallon watering can around the whole yard, or let the boys run around like little madmen with their 1 quart watering cans and dumping water on everything (including each other).
Kids like to play outside when the weather is nice (and sometimes when it is rainy, too). Because they see the grown ups in their lives gardening, they'll pretend to be doing it too. I lost count how many sticks my youngest put into the sandbox at the park and said he was growing a forest. When you take them by the hand and get them involved in the garden, there is a whole world of good things that can happen.
The best, however, is that bonding time you get to spend. Second best is watching them light up when they see a butterfly emerge from its cocoon. But it may be tied with fresh tomatoes right off the vine. Next week, I'll share with you how we organized our garden so that the kids have their own special things to be responsible for. It's a tricky balance between responsibility and fun. I'll share what we're doing at our place here.