I’m not quite sure how we got here, but the school year is winding down. Less than three weeks to go, then my son will be a second grader. As a parent, it’s exhilarating to watch your child become more of themselves, and yet there is always the knowing that with each day that passes, they are one step closer to eventually not being your ‘baby’ anymore. I try to not hold on either way – rather, just be in the flow of where we are at, doing my best to enjoy each stage along the way – however adorable…or (let’s admit it) annoying.
In the meantime, I try to weave little things into our days that bring a sense of connectedness, and (hopefully) memories between us. Part of that for me is running the Garden Club at his school. Ironically, he is the only kid each week who completely acts out during our hour-long class. Most of the time I have to send him out onto the yard until I’m done with the other kids and ready to deal with him. As an only child, I sense that he can’t handle me loving and attending to so many other kids, so he acts out, knowing that’s his ticket to freedom.
Such was the case yesterday when I heard screaming behind the garden shed only to find my son on top of the 3-foot-tall compost bin, hollering and kicking the shed on the one side and attempting to scale the fence on the other like a monkey/mad man.
You’re outta there…
Luckily the dozens of other students, parents and siblings who showed up for the garden party seemed to have a great time. I wanted to organize the event as a way to celebrate our successful year in the garden and to bring more awareness to the program. When I say ‘program,’ I basically mean me, as a parent volunteer, showing up each week to guide the kids through planting, weeding, watering and harvesting…and learning about where food comes from along the way.
I have lived in the garden my entire life, and perhaps take it a bit for granted sometimes. So I always get such a thrill when the kids squeal with delight, telling me they’ve never seen a tomato growing, or that they’ve never picked a strawberry directly off the plant. The six raised beds have become some sort of portal that transports us far away from the adjacent concrete yard and stucco bungalows. In that space we have come together to have fun, learn and grow. ‘Systems’ for watering, weeding and picking have developed on their own – no need to force. There are the leaders and the helpers of the group. All of this has developed naturally.
So it was bittersweet to experience the party yesterday, knowing that some of these beloved kids will be moving on to middle school, not coming back next year. We had a huge spread of healthy and not-so-healthy foods, a pretend farmers market, a garden tour and a final planting of the year (tomatoes, melons and corn).
The principal even came in her standard three-inch heels and pencil skirt. Quite a (wonderful) site to see.
Yes, all is good in garden land. I am happy and satisfied. I feel my role is to simply create and open up space for each child to have their own experience. Some simply like to come and dig or water. Others have ‘aha’ moments where they put it all together – the cycles of life and how precious it all is.
All of the parts are equally important, which is why, again, I love simply creating the opportunity. They are the ones who fill it with the perfect blend of sweetness and silliness, always learning and enjoying along the way.