Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Connections, You Say? Invasive Weeds, Kids, and Parenting? Time to Draw the Lines!

Here's my chance to amaze you all with just how slowly I do figure things out. I've probably read everything I'm about to say in some parenting book or article at some point, and more than likely, unless you are still a young, not-yet-a-parent type person, so have you.

The key points on why invasive weeds and kids are similar:
  • Recognize the innate beauty of your weeds and your children.
  • Not all plants have to be roses to smell sweet.
  • Not all kids have to be interested in the same things you are to be interesting.
  • Appreciating the positive qualities of both weeds and children vastly improves the relationship.
  • There's a lot of talk about control, cooperation is more effective. Either way, thinking is required.
  • Research and observation, trial and error, practice, practice and practice some more.
So, with my tansy, the tansy of my dreams when I read the seed catalogue, it was going to be a lovely, unusual herb and we were going to be "blessed" with a lack of ants. It is not unusual anymore, at least not within about 400 feet of my house, rough guess, with some clumps appearing well down the road. Absence of ants is not a good thing, except in the sugar bowl or at a picnic. Wanting to please my mother brought about unintended results. I have been frustrated by the existence of tansy in my garden. If there is a parent out there unwilling to admit the temporary insanity of frustration with beloved children, please speak up, I want to gaze in amazement at you and your kids.

Last December when I was writing up the schedule for this term I kept asking Thing Two, so what about this, shall we do that? She kept picking up her head from whatever novel she was absorbed in, and saying some version of  "sure, sounds great!" I kept thinking about all the interesting things we would be doing and how the learning this term would set us up for the April to June term. I pictured us getting to the end of March, round about now, and being busy planning how she was going to set up her market garden business over the summer. Doing garden plans, spreadsheets, costing out seeds and working out how much time it would take to plant, maintain, harvest and take to the tailgate market in town. Looking at prices of vegetables and working out what she might expect to earn, and how much she might have to pay in costs.

Just like picturing the tansy as a plant that stayed where I put it and did what it said it would do, I pictured her researching cultures and creating dioramas and little posters and booklets and presenting these to, say a nice little group of folks we'd invite over. I pictured us beating her math demons into submission and improving my ability to read French with guidance from her demanding ear. I could go on about my imaginary three months.

The point is though, that imagination, useful as it is, does not actually move us from an idea to a finished product unless we have truly embraced the desire for that product and are willing to put in the planning and put down the distractions and haul or dance ourselves through all the steps between the glowing perfect imaginary X and the real X. I'm going to let you think about that for a while and go back to doing other real world projects. Projects that will help Thing Two be able to do the things she is interested in doing, and which I know I will enjoy as much, or more than I enjoy the feeling of great wealth I experience raking up my unexpected bounty from those few tansy seeds planted so long ago. 

May Thing Two's willingness to speak her own desires and tell her own stories increase with each passing day, and with each passing day may she realize that making decisions to please her mother, or anyone else, is sometimes a generous gift, but one which must be made with great caution, lest in her anxiety to please others,  the thread of her own great weaving become entangled in a thorn bush of confusion. For each of us, in whatever garden we live, it must be our own, and while we share its abundance and its care with others, still we must remember and ponder this: "The best fertilizer is the footsteps of the gardener."

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