Gardening with kids: Give and Take

Give and Take

There is rarely a day when there is not a big, major Lego crisis in our household of three kids. Of the billions of pieces of expertly molded Danish plastic bits that inhabit the house, there is but one cherished piece that the kids vie for each day. Today, it was the tail-light of a pink galactic moon rover. The disagreement usually starts with a strong statement, quickly escalating to fisticuffs. 

Along with all the fighting, tender compassion is also a part of their day. A strong, genuine sibling hug can quickly make a skinned knee a thing of the past. The empathy and concern is real. It’s so sweet when it happens. But to be honest, there’s way more fighting.

We take a lot from our garden- hundreds of pounds of vegetables, flowers, fruits and seeds. The miracle of a tiny tomato seed becoming a golden, pear-shaped drop of joy is not lost on the kids. Outside they thrive. And questions of how and why plants do what they do are non-stop.

The roots below, rays from above and rain clouds all give. Conversations in the garden unconsciously meander towards balance because plants require balance to grow well. To get what we want (giant pumpkins) what do we need to give? Compost heaped up helps and so does pulling weeds. We know the importance of planting good seed. We mulch to keep unwanted growth at bay and to infuse nutrients.

While our yields of nourishment, livelihood and pleasure are significant, our inputs are as well. Gardens that are only taken from rarely do well. Out in our garden, the kids nearly always shift to nurture-mode and fights are uncommon. They’ll grunt, dig, toil and share, all with the confidence that there is a reward at the end of the job. We usually find harmony outside whether we are harvesting or dealing with pests.

What we take from the garden is consumed, shared, saved or sold. These goods smell like summer in little hands and they are measurable. Less measurable but equal are the time, amendments and work that we put into the garden. In the garden, there is a balance between give and take. We haven’t found it with Legos yet.