Sweet Child of Mine
We only get Savannah (Kevin’s daughter, age 6.5) one weekend out of the month. She loves being outside and is a little firecracker, with more energy than we usually know what to do with. She loves that we are starting up our farm and says things like “We’re good little farmers.”
We want her to be a part of as much of our farm as possible and we do a lot of planning before she arrives to make sure we get as many activities as possible with contingency plans for weather. We think it’s important to show her what hard, honest work is and to enjoy the rewards of that work.
We were graced with the sunshine this weekend (a winter rarity here) and so we suited up in our overalls, applied sunscreen, and headed out to get our onion plants in the ground. We received them in the mail early that week and were hoping we could keep them alive until she could help us plant them. She loves driving the tractor, and honestly I think that was probably her favorite part. She’s getting pretty big, though. This will probably be the last spring she can sit in her daddy’s lap and steer.
After tilling, we started planting the little starts in four rows. We gave her a spacing block to give her an idea of where to put them and just let her go at it. She did great for about fifteen minutes and then ran off to play while I planted the other 3.75 rows. She loves being in the dirt and will use any excuse to get dirty. She was “digging for crystals” for a while and then decided she needed to bury herself in the dirt and requested (rather forcefully) our help.
Deciding to switch to a more interesting activity, I finished up the planting while Kevin and Savannah started painting the outside of the chicken coop. As a parent (him) and adult figure (me) in her life, we’ve talked a lot about the kind of learning environment we want to set for her. Yes, we want her to learn to work hard and do a good job, but we also don’t want to discourage her by criticizing everything she does. We’ve seen so many parents steal the joy out of family activities by telling kids all the things they are doing wrong instead of focusing on what they are doing right. We try to focus on positive statements like “you’re working so hard on that,” “look how much you’ve accomplished,” and “I’m so proud of the work that you’ve done.” Even when things don’t go as we had planned them, we try to focus on how to fix them and move forward instead of focusing on blame. I think she knows we don’t expect her to be perfect, we just expect her to do her best and to have fun with it. And even though I’m not claiming to be her parent, I think it’s a good parenting style. And our coop may have some red splattered on the white; it may be streaky and uneven. Our beehive table should probably be painted over to get that “Instagram-worthy” photo. Maybe our plants aren’t perfectly spaced or in the straightest of lines. But, to me at least, none of that matters as long as she’s out there with us, singing songs and making messes.
We’re starting to enter the “big kid” phase. Savannah is growing like a weed not just physically, but emotionally and mentally. She’s learning so much in school and from her friends and family (and yes even TV), and the days of her being a young'un are starting to slip. It’s sad and exciting and bittersweet to be witnessing this shift as a non-parent. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to people who have children to see them turn that corner. All I can hope for is that these lessons stick and she learns to do her best in everything she tries. And I hope when she grows older, she’ll remember being out there in the garden, burying herself in the dirt and digging for crystals.