Gardening incorporates many of the things that little kids love the most. Getting dirty. Playing outside. Using fun, “grown up” tools. And, most especially, spending time with their grandparents.
We moved down the street from our four grandsons when they were 5, 3, 3 (yes, twins!) and 1. While we were not gardeners at that time, the magicians who sold us our house definitely were. They had planted beautiful flower beds, peach, pear, and plum trees, and four of the most gorgeous and fertile raised vegetable beds you’ve ever seen. While Papa and I had never so much as kept a house plant alive, we felt a real responsibility to be good stewards of this beautiful garden with which we had been gifted. So, we set about to learn as much as we could.
It was a win-win. The grands loved it. And, we fell in love with the garden and gardening.
That first spring and summer were magic. Every Friday afternoon, we would hear the little band of brothers as they toddled their ways down the sidewalk (with parental supervision, of course) to our back yard. They always ran the last two or three house lengths, giggling and excited to get into the back yard to start digging.
I purchased four little color-coordinated garden trugs, (one for each boy) and collected spades, gloves, goggles, plastic watering cans, aprons and hats. I even added a pair of kid binoculars in each trug, just in case any tiny critters showed themselves and the boys wanted a closer look.
Each Friday afternoon, upon entering the back yard, those boys ran to the potting shed and grabbed their gear…ready to begin the fun.
We started the process early that spring by taking the whole gang down to the garden center to pick out a few of their favorite things. We ended up with a bunch of pumpkin and watermelon seeds, some tomatoes and strawberries and some pepper plants. Pops and I filled in with the rest of the garden later on.
When the time was ripe, we planted our seeds and seedlings and the boys watched with rapt attention, as they began to sprout and grow. I added a plastic ruler and little notebook and pencil to the trugs. Our five year old enjoyed measuring and recording the progress of some of the plants. The little ones scribbled in their notebooks, but as we old teachers know… that’s the first step in developing a great writer!
Every Friday that summer, the boys would come over, excited to dig and play and record their findings. One special day, we harvested our first (and only) ripe strawberry. Papa and I had guarded that strawberry all week long, just waiting to share it with the boys. And, it did not disappoint. All six of us took a tiny bite from the sweet, delicious berry, moaning with pleasure as we passed it around and took our turn. That’s still one of my very favorite memories of our times with the boys.
After running and playing and digging and weeding (they got pretty good and determining which were plants and which were weeds), the tykes, tired and dirty and hungry, would run to the big bathtub at dusk and take bubble baths while Papa supervised and I finished up dinner. Of course, I always incorporated anything that they had grown and harvested into our dinner menu. Crazy what a kid will eat if he grew it himself.
Fed and clean and tired little boys (dressed each week in matching garden-inspired jammies, of course) would climb the staircase to their “Nana-room” where Pops and I took turns reading garden-inspired books and singing good-night songs.
We all slept very well on Friday nights that summer.
The boys are older now (11-9-9-7) and, after a two-year tour in South Korea, we have moved to a new house – one with a yet-to-be-developed garden (where are those magical previous owners when you need them?). But the boys’ love of the garden inspired a desire for Pops and me to learn more and do more with the grands in our new garden. I’ll share some of those projects in months to come.
“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”
The same can be said about investing time in our grands.