At our previous residence – more in the boonies than where we live now, but only 7 miles away – we had neighbors living “next door” — one big lot between us.
I had known the girl who lived there many years. I didn’t meet her child until she was about 4 or 5 years old. When we did meet – her daughter seemed to know me instantly and called out my name and gave me a big hug. For some reason it was pretty much love at first sight for both of us.
When her brother was born – prematurely – you could literally hold him in the palm of your hand. It wasn’t many months before the now 8 year old girl brought the fragile little bundle over to see me! And she was persistent in doing so.
One year when peas were in season, I remember Robin bringing Timothy over when he was still in diapers. He was still so small that only one pea (out of the pod) could fit in his hand. Would you believe he would eat those peas! It was then that I think he got hooked on my garden.
It seemed to me that Timothy never had any rules at home and was pretty much allowed to do anything he wanted and go anywhere he wanted from the time he was born. The only place he knew rules was at our place. And our place is where he would have been most of the time had we let him.
We had only 3 rules. #1 He had to have permission from us to come on our property. #2 He couldn’t walk in the vegetable or flower beds.(He never had a problem with this even when he was 2 and 3 years old.) #3. He could dig a hole to the other side of the earth as long as he filled it in when he was finished playing.
We had some great times and those times are some of my most precious memories.
One year when he was about 5 years old, he asked me if he could have a tomato plant to call his own. Of course I said yes. We designated a special spot for his tomato and gave him a young tomato seedling to plant.
He dug a hole. Snatched up the tomato seedling with a death grip and plunged it into the hole. He then almost buried it with the dirt in spite of my protests and literally pounded the plant into the ground.
In spite of the rough treatment, it was one of the biggest tomato plants we had that year. It gave seemingly tons of tomatoes for Timothy and his family. He was so proud. I was too.
And the bonus was the lesson I learned: Plants are a lot more tough than you might think.
When kids want to help. Let them. All will be well in the garden and in the heart of the child — not to mention yours.