Saturday, May 30, 2009

Staying out of their way

A couple years back when I was publishing a lot of stuff, I wrote this article that compared raising children to growing a garden.

While in the garden today, I had another thought about gardening and how it relates to raising children...

These are the very beginning of the acorn squash plants that are currently growing in my garden. Aren't they lovely? Coming up so green and strong? Far more healthy and robust in their quest for growth than most anything else I planted thus far.

Here’s the thing. By all rights, they should NOT have even sprouted. I don’t know how they had the strength to push their lovely greenness up through the dirt. The hills were thrown in at the last minute. Where they ended up was much shadier than I had wanted. And as far as watering, they are just out of reach of the sprinkler’s spray. So if my brain isn't fully attentive to the garden, they go a bit thirsty.

But they grew. They are healthy. Strong. Just going about, doing what seeds do.

I didn't do anything but plant the seeds. I haven't watered them nearly enough, and any expert would say that where I planted them was terrrible planning.

But they grew.

And so it goes with kids. And school. I'm not saying that we shouldn't ever do anything. I've come to find out that is totally NOT what unschooling is. Sandra Dodd says, "When a mom thinks unschooling is doing nothing, she's not doing nearly enough." And this is totally true. So please don't think I'm suggesting don't ever water the garden or care in the least where you put the hill of squash to grow. That would be the equivalent of saying "The kids are unschooled. I'm watching Oprah and eating cheesecake. All day. They will be fine."

What I am saying is I think sometimes (or most times)we try way too hard. We put our nose and cheeks and entire face into places where we aren't necessarily needed. We interrupt things that might otherwise happen naturally if we'd stop interfering all the time. Seeds sprout up sometimes, regardless of what we did or didn't do. They grow because its their purpose.

I'd venture to guess that with kids and learning, its much the same.


MamaLou said...

Wow this analogy could be taken soooo much you planted them in the wrong spot, and now you'll care for themas best you can, and they'll do fine despite their rocky start, but maybe you planted them in the wrong spot and don't give a *u*k and well, that poor squash will try it's best, but grow up warped.....

MamaTea said...

You're right, MamaLou. The analogy could be taken farther. I know people who would read this and assume it means "plant the seed (kid) and don't ever look at it again - they will turn out fine!". I even know a few gems who would drop the seeds (kids) in the middle of the ocean and expect them to sprout squash right then and there.

I guess I took it to mean more like "calm down!". You know, for people who, like me, are trying to get over the belief that Great Thing A that I do will produce Great thing B in my children. Because sometimes (or often times?) they have little to do with each other.

My job, I think, is to provide the rich environment. I found out that the place I planted the acorn squash is some wickedly awesome peat...seriously rich soil. So as long as I can create a rich peat-like environment for my little seeds (kids), we should be doing fine. :)

Sherry said...

This is a great analogy. Thanks for sharing. :)

Ruralmama said...

You know, I think that sometimes I do all of the above. There are days for cheesecake and Oprah (well, not really...but how about Heinlein and Ice Cream?) and then there are days of intensive, in-your-face school stuff. It's just dependent on their needs not only mine. Balance, balance, balance is the mantra.

Today we bellydance and plant pansies (and strawberries) tomorrow we do the entire 2nd grade workbook we bought at the dollar store. It's all good.

We just have got to make sure that were attentive to changing needs!

MamaTea said...

"Attentive to changing needs" - you're right, RuralMama. Good point!