posted on 5/2/14
How are you watching your kid unfold?
(photo credit: Think Stock)
We’ve all been forced recently to think about child rearing whether or not we’re rearing a child. Tiger Mom, Tiger Mom II, and‘grit’ are familiar terms though we may not agree. Through trial and error (consider for a second what’s implied there), we’re slowly getting the formula tweaked just right to produce the most academically gifted and economically productive humans possible.
But there’s one problem: There is not an optimal human or one definition of a successful life.
My husband’s work recently tilled areas of their vast acreage for employees to raise gardens. What started out as buying a few starter plants, throwing them into the ground, and hoping for the best quickly gave way to an obsession involving soil pHs and shoveling horse manure into our car.
The obsession kicks off in the fall when Johnny’s Seed Catalog shows up in the mail, which Tim greets with a “(Gasp!) It’s here!” The fruits and vegetables are carefully chosen based on previous remembrances of taste or longevity (for the flowers). The ground is diagrammed in PowerPoint. Seeds are started in red plastic cups in the sunny office-turned-greenhouse and garden shed.
Each plant has its preferences. Which plants it likes to grow near. How much sun and water are required. What minerals the soil requires.
Then, the cultivation begins. Green bean tendrils find guide twine. Tomatoes require cages to support their delicate stems and hefty fruit. Other care is required that he tells me about in detail that I surely listened to but cannot now remember.
And when I hear someone liken parenting to growing a seed that lacks a package, it makes complete sense.
I have no idea what kind of kid I have. So I’ll watch her unfold. I’ll appreciate who she is, instead of trying to shape her into who I want her to be. I’ll watch for her gifts and give her tools to develop those gifts.
Because a tomato will never be a green bean, and a sunflower will never be a snapdragon. Nor would any of us ever want them to be.
Andrea Lee is a mom who’s winging it, just like everyone else.
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