I just want to make this clear. I am not the gardener. I look at plants and they die. I have tried and tried and tried. When I killed a cactus, I figured I should give up.
When I had my daughter we tried again. We cleared an area. We picked the most Florida friendly and hearty plants. It took off fairly well. It lasted a few weeks. Then as usual with me. It died. Luckily my daughter was three at the time and she was thrilled we got some green beans. She ate those green beans raw off the vine.
Fast forward to when she was five we joined a great church that nurtured the kids in all areas. Gardening was just but one aspect. They planted a garden and unlike ours it flourished. My daughter had until this garden refused to eat both sunflower seeds and tomatoes, two of my favorites. As they checked on the plants each Sunday the excitement grew. They had some gardeners come in and talk about sustainability and natural bug protection and so much more.
When finally those plants were ready for harvest the joy could not be contained. There was not one child who did not at least try the cherry red tomatoes. There was much delight in cracking the sunflower seeds. We casually mentioned to the kids that this is how people eat in other places. They do not have grocery stores that have everything and anything.
The garden was transformed into a butterfly garden this year. It has taught the kids more lessons. They learned about invasive species and native species. They took turns watering it to get it established. They were amazed that now that its established the rain takes care of it.
My daughter is now nine. She eats tomatoes and often reminds me of when they grew their own tomatoes. In school they watched corn germinate and sprout. It did fine at school. It died at home. Since I am corn intolerant I can’t really say I was sad to see this.
The experiences she has had through the Unitarian Universalist Church we joined has given her a heart of compassion. We ourselves do not have much but we still give away. She takes such delight in choosing things that she no longer needs or plays with. We make a big deal about it and discuss why we are doing it. We don’t have much but there are others who have less. We discuss how she has enough outfits she could wear a different one for at least a month if not longer. That there are children who wear one outfit until it falls apart. That often these children make their own clothing out of whatever material they can find.
All of this has helped me nourish her heart for compassion towards others. This coming December I am excited for her to help with our church’s care and share give away. The entire congregation and even some of the surrounding schools help. The give away last one day but the prep is usual two to three days of sorting. I am excited that my daughter has a chance this year to have a more active volunteer position with this. It is one thing to hear about it. It will be another thing for her to see how thankful the homeless families and people are.
I hope we can continue to nourish this heart of compassion she has for others. That it can expand farther than our home area. We try so hard to be the perfect parent but sometimes we forget that it is not all up to me. They pick up valuable lessons from those they are around.