Teaching kids to recover from mistakes with cucumbers.

There was a week or so here in Asheville this February that was glorious. Gentle rains and unseasonable warmth were lifting the winter-gray in our house. We decided it was time to plant seeds!

We prepared our seed pots with great soil and went through our seed bank. We planted our Kids Seed Co. pear tomatoes, new varieties of flowers that we will grow for seed this fall, and an assortment of other plants that require an indoor jump-start before planting out in the garden in late April. Then, we found the cucumbers.

Cucumbers like heat and plenty of sun. The seeds also germinate quickly. Caught up in the warmth and excitement of planting, when one of the kids asked to start a tray of cukes, I enthusiastically agreed. However, by early March, it was clear that our cucumbers were outgrowing their containers and the weather was still going to be too chilly outside for several more weeks. Having been an avid gardener for decades, I should have known it was too early for the cucumbers.

Gardening, like parenting, and life in general, is often a continuous series of miscalculations. "Did you learn something?" is an often-spoken phrase in our house when the kids make an error. They hate it when I say that. Mistakes are a part of life but we aim to teach our kids to rebound from mistakes with perseverance, creativity and an awareness of what went wrong and how.

We talked about what to do with the cucumbers. One kid suggested composting them, the littlest just wanted to eat them, and finally, one suggested putting them in bigger pots. 

We found a big container and decided that some of our cucumbers would spend the rest of spring and summer as container plants. We dedicated a sunny spot by a window for them to grow and then made a professional looking schedule of which kid gets to water them on what day.

Our cucumber mistake turned out to be a great activity and we enjoy watching the beautiful green sprouts grow each day. I haven't learned to make fewer mistakes as I age and the kids are unlikely to as they grow up. But my hope as a parent is to teach the kids how to deal with their mistakes and the cucumbers turned out to be a good way to explain that concept.

And despite the clear and fair watering-turn-schedule, they fight over whose turn it is to water the cucumbers every day. That'll be a future blog post, if I ever figure out a remedy for: "It's MY turn!"