I had a helper in the garden last week. He’s only been on the planet for two years now, and like most modern two-year-olds he loves to play with grown-ups’ smart phones and tablets, but what he wanted that morning was to help with a grown-up pastime of much longer pedigree. And he enjoyed it so much, he asked to do it again the next day.
He was adept at pinching off ripe blueberries one by one – “no green,” he reminded us both as he reached for the blue ones and popped them into his mouth. Then we went out the garden gate, into the woods, and he showed the same excellent technique with black raspberries (“no red, only black”). I don’t know if he was surprised that berries, one of his favorite foods from the grocery store, could be found outside growing on bushes. When you’re only two years old everything might surprise you, so that in essence nothing does.
There were clearly thought processes going on, and he used the vocabulary he had at hand to express them.
“Water plants?” for instance meant, “can we play with that hose and spray water all over our bare feet like we did yesterday?”
Yes, we can. We did. It was a hot day.
We raked some lawn, cultivated flowerbeds, and dug around in a barrowful of compost. He was a full partner in these activities, each of them interesting to him, adding to his repertoire of life’s possibilities. Discovering and expanding on those possibilities is what growing up is all about. Whatever else he does as he grows up, I hope he’ll remember that cool water on a hot day and the taste of a favorite fruit, and know that gardening will always be there for him. We’ve made a good start.