My 4-year-old son loves to help in the garden at his grandma’s house. She has spent a ton of time, care, and attention growing a wide variety of produce. She’s got everything from carrots and chard to green beans and blueberries. It’s thrilling for him to go out to the garden to see how each plant has grown since the last time and carefully pick the ones that are ready for harvesting. We started making plans to create a garden in our backyard as well. We’re going to use this Keyhole Garden Guide from FH to help us. He’s already decided which seeds we should plant and I’m excited for us to have something special to do together. However, I’ve also realized that there are some important teaching moments that come with gardening.
I’m painfully aware that I’m raising my child in a culture full of instant gratification. I’m guilty of it as well. My Amazon Prime order in on my doorstep in two days or less. I can watch my favorite television shows one right after the other without commercial interruptions. I can reach anyone I need within seconds. Plus, the vast expansion of food delivery can entertain my smallest craving or whim. Even so, I want my son to learn the value of being patient and waiting on God’s perfect timing. We have no immediate control over how fast the vegetable seeds will grow and when they will produce a harvest. Consequently, we simply have to show up each day, commit to caring for the plant and allowing it to grow on its own time. There’s value in learning that lesson.
There’s Beauty in Imperfection
Sometimes the carrots look a little funny or the eggplant didn’t grow as big as we thought. The thing about a home garden is that there is little control on the perfection of the outcome. We might not win any agricultural prizes at the state fair, but I think there’s an important lesson in placing value on the harvests that aren’t perfect on the outside. I hope that lesson will help him be slow to judge value based on appearances. I hope he realizes it’s the inside and the effort that matters most.
Food is Universal
I think that the process of planting, cultivating, and harvesting food changes the way you see it. You realize that it takes effort and time to get that food and it somehow becomes more valuable to you. We appreciate it more and our prayers of thanks around the dinner table are filled with authentic gratitude for what’s before us. In that, it’s also a chance to teach him that other families all over the world just like ours rely on this source of food. Grocery stores with endless choices aren’t available to everyone. Knowing that children who live in the developing world go through the same process that we do connects us to them.
Additionally, we know that we have a chance to help them through vegetable seeds is a powerful act of love. It’s exciting for him to see our seeds and know that we helped provide some just like them to another family. You can give a family vegetable seeds too through the Food for the Hungry gift catalog.
One of my deepest hopes is that as my son grows up, I can use these small moments in everyday life to cultivate his generous character. It’s an added bonus if he’s more excited about eating vegetables.