Spring is a fantastic season to have a little kid around. Nico had a lot of fun playing in the garden last year and I suspect this year might be even better. He and I went down the the neighborhood playground at the beginning of April and somewhere during the course of our visit he asked me what was under the bushes that have been planted to eventually grow into a hedge. When I told him that roots are under plants, he became very curious and kept asking what the roots are, what they do. He didn't really get it, but I pulled up a weedy flowery thing to show him and he seemed duly impressed. I was hoping I could spin this curiosity into a deeper interest in plants and gardening and where food comes from, so I bought Nico two little seed planting kits from the dollar section at Target. He had a great time spooning water onto the little soil pellets, but the seeds were way too small for him to handle (basil and strawberries). I let him poke the holes for the seeds, but I had to put them into the soil for him. Once they were assembled, he did ask about his "little gardens" a few times. The middle stage was rather hard because Nico couldn't really do anything with the kits without possibly damaging the little plants, so they just had to sit up on the windowsill out of his reach. Now that the basil sprouts are getting a little tall for the mini greenhouse, I'm hoping Nico can help me transplant them to a couple of flowerpots this week.
A few weeks after our playground visit, the take-home activity at Nico's playgroup was a baggie with three sunflower seeds. I was so pleased with how well the mini Target greenhouse worked for the basil that I went back and bought another one for starting the sunflower seeds. Nico had a great time again adding the water to the pellets and helping to spoon the soil into the bottom of the planter. The seeds were big enough that he could put them in himself, which was nice. The sunflowers sprouted and grew quickly, so we transplanted them to the garden already. I'll have to go back there and check…hopefully no squirrels or rabbits came along and made a snack of them this past weekend. MB also planted some tomatoes in the garden with Nico's "help." He's definitely still more interested in digging in the dirt than he is in planting things or learning about plants. I tell myself that'll come, though, even if it doesn't come this year. He does get excited about earthworms, which is pretty rad. He also had a fun time filling up our bird feeder to hang outside his playroom window. I have this warm fuzzy little fantasy that we'll watch the birds together and he'll start to learn to identify some. It might actually happen…he learned to identify robins earlier this year and still excitedly says, "Mommy, is that a robin? It has an orange chest!" when he sees one.
As often happens, I feel like having Nico around is opening my eyes to the everyday wonder in the world. Things I've taken for granted for a long time, like robins and little plants growing from seed, are suddenly exciting and miraculous again. It's pretty damn awesome. Gardening with a toddler also teaches me / reminds me to be patient. I went into it with such pie-in-the-sky daydreams last year and then quickly realized Nico wanted only two things out of the experience: to dig in the dirt and to run through the hose whenever possible. And once I let go of my adult-based expectations and just let him be, it was seriously wonderful. I think as a parent I really need his guidance sometimes to let go of my Type A planning and just be present in the moment. Who would've thought that the biggest parenting lessons sometimes are the ones the child teaches the grownup?
examining some playground plants
digging for earthworms at a local Earth Day event
After hanging the feeder, he stepped back and said, "Here you go, birds!"
The tiny gloves are killing me.
He calls the spade a "spadeship" for some reason. Like spaceship but hinty times more adorable.
an outdoor activity we can all agree upon