Friday, October 06, 2006

My Secret (Pathetic) Garden

Last year, I had this little play tent set up in the backyard for the kids. It was there all summer long, and so by the time the weather had completely destroyed it (either that, or it was the kids who destroyed it!), the grass underneath was non-existent.

So, what do you do with a dead spot of grass? I suppose I could have just planted seed. But I had this fabulously educational idea. As my family was wandering through K-Mart, I found the rack with seeds for flowers and vegetables and pumpkins and thought to myself, "Self, we should plant a garden!"

My boys helped pick out what the plant. Carrots, corn, beans, peas, red peppers, and pumpkins...plus a couple packets of Zenias for the front yard.

Thing is, our little splotch of land was precisely three feet by four feet, which mean foregoing the recommended "18 inches between plants". I also had to mix into the clay that serves as our dirt with some fresh top soil. And one fine day, me and the kids spent several hours tending our own little secret garden.

My boys were very good caretakers of the garden. They watered it every day, and got all excited when a tiny plant would pop up through the soil, only to have their excitement dashed when I had to inform them that it was only a weed.

Eventually, though, the plants did start to poke up through the soil. Of course, it was about this time that their interest waned. Or at least, my interest waned. I kind of lost the passion, and ignored several of the larger weeds that were taking over.

At some point mid-summer, we had our first crop. Peas. Due to the small space, we grew exactly one meal worth of peas. We cooked them and ate them, but I couldn't help but notice that our little garden looked nothing like the gardens my mother grew when I was a kid with corn taller than me, and going out everyday to pick a fresh bowl of green beans.

The red peppers never did much of anything. The corn never grew more than four inches tall, and the beans were dried out and dying before we could harvest a single one. And even now, we have this lovely pumpkin vine stretching out across the lawn. Notice I said pumpkin vine. No pumpkin. Not even the hint of a pumpkin.

And what about my Zenias? Thing is about Zenias is I loved them as a kid. I thought they were pretty in their multi-colored blooms. And how cool was it that you could pluck them and have next year's seeds all ready? But, like the garden behind the house, the Zenias in front of the house never bloomed. Oh, I have these nice tall green little stalks, but no flower.

My garden is pathetic. My Zenias are pathetic. Okay, okay. I'll admit it. I'm pathetic. I'm one of those people who likes to find the shortcuts to something, rather than invest the time and energy it takes for a decent crop.

And so I think about this in terms of parenting. It is so easy to take the shortcuts in life with parenting...to do what is easy, hoping it will all work out in the end. But it doesn't work out. Shortcuts mean you aren't investing the time and energy into the kids that it takes to raise them into highly successful and well-adjusted adults.

I have to constantly remind myself of that. Take care of the weeds that are infesting their attitude, spend time with them, watering and feeding them the love and attention they need. If you don't, you end up with what I've heard called "credit card parenting". If you don't do what you need to do to parent your child today, you'll have to deal with the bill later...with interest.

And so while my secret, pathetic garden might not bear any fruit, I will endeavor to ensure my kids do.

1 comment:

MileMasterSarah said...

Awesome post! I love this! I have to remind myself of this every night as my son and I sit down again to work on reading and writing. He really struggles and sometimes he HATES it....You have helped me to feel better about the time we spend hitting the books! Now I need to find equal time to do something special with my daughter. ...sigh....Inspiring but I'm tired now just thinking about it!