Toddler at Work

10 Jun

The Garden Assistant when he was six months old after a sowing. (2011)

Toddlers are naturally curious. The world and everything in it is fairly new to them. Now that they have mobility and a developing hand eye foot coordination, it’s only natural that they want to touch, grab, taste, figure out how things work, and just investigate the world that surrounds them. Unfortunately for a mama gardener, that also means touching, hitting, digging and swatting at plants, often the plants that we put so much effort into growing. So, how to keep a toddler from destroying the garden? Enlist their help!

Working with his soil

I set aside a bag of soil for him to play with, along with his own pots, a pail and a shovel. This keeps him entertained while I repot or transplant plants. I sometimes ask him to help put the real soil in the real pots I am about to use. With supervision, I also let him water some of the plants with his own watercan. The trick is to pay as much attention to him as the plants.

Watering the Eucalyptus

On occasion, if my attention favors the plants, he has acted out by hitting a plant. He has particular contempt for my Eucalyptus plant for some reason. In that instance, after the terror bells go off in my head over the poor plant, I call him over and in my sweetest calmest voice go over the spiel for tantrums (I realize you’re angry, can you tell me what you would like? etc) and once his needs are met, I explain to him that it’s an owie for the plant. This usually has him blow kisses to it with his apologetic eyes. I’ve gone so far as to explain photosynthesis to him and the importance of loving and caring for plants and trees for the survival of our species. I know this goes over his head now, but I hope that as we continue the dialogue well into his childhood, some of it sticks.

“Helping” make holes in a tin can

I hope to impart my love of gardening to him. I hope someday he shares my feelings about gardening. That it’s not just a fun hobby, or a way to eat yummy tomatoes, or a way for the individual to feel connected to the earth and the cosmos, but that it’s also a way to participate, albeit in a small way, in the creating of oxygen for the planet, and to become part of the resistance to the Monsanto giants who relish in making a profit while poisoning our food. For now, it’s all about sharing a moment together. In our busy lives, my Garden Assistant and I relish slowing down and gardening together.

So, if you have a toddler on your hands, have them help in the garden! They’ll love to feel useful, and included, you’ll be able to form beautiful memories together, and you’ll have less mangled plants when you’re not looking!


2 Responses to “Toddler at Work”

  1. Caitlyn June 10, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

    love your blog! it is SO TRUE, that if you want to get any gardening done yourself- you must firt give your toddler a very important job to keep them occupied and busy. Hope these kiddos grow up to love gardening as much as we do =)

    • michellethegrower June 12, 2012 at 1:20 pm #

      Thanks! Toddlers love being helpful! Especially if it’s a VERY IMPORTANT job! 🙂

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