Gardening with Children March 01, 2018 19:31
Ooh. Now, here comes the truth. I don’t like gardening with kids. I know. Awful, eh? The trouble is, the OCD kicks in. “Don’t stand on that!” “Be careful of the bulbs” “this is NOT a football pitch!”
Oh, but it is.
To my little boys, the garden is freedom - a space to let loose and go wild. Literally.
This little example of 'healthy tension' is perhaps best explained by the completely different view you have when you are forty, versus four.
When I commuted up to London, my garden was an escape from the rest of the world. Savoured on weekends and evenings. When the kids arrived, all that kicking and screaming (theirs, not mine, but, now I think about it...) was soothed by the garden. The boys found solace in nature; sleeping for hours tucked up in a pram in all weathers. Meanwhile, I got chance to put my feet up, or just wonder around, picking out the odd weed, admiring latest blooms. The garden nurtured and looked after us all.
But these days, we all want a piece. I feel a deep connection to my garden - it's been there through good times and bad. It is a place that I love to be in, either alone, or with my Mum and Dad, pottering about, learning from their experience. And now, I find myself sharing it, little by little, with the ankle biters.
After several years of protestation, I have come to appreciate their love of the garden. Although different from mine, it is still keenly felt. The boys love the pond. While this might send my anxiety levels through the roof, I wouldn't change it for the world. That look of delight when they spot a frog or a newt is just brilliant. My eldest has designated an area on the other side of the pond as his 'peaceful place' - when he is there, his little brother has to leave him alone. What a sensitive soul. Very cute. But also, very astute; sensing the calming nature of water.
Our grass has never been up to much. And these days, I'm eternally grateful. While I've been growing out some of the grass into shapely 'teardrops'; mowing around these areas, now earmarked as wildflower and meadow areas, the boys have spied a race track - whizzing their bikes up and down the mowed areas, tongues out, serious face on, for the hairpin bends and the longer, wider turns.
While their land grabbing hasn't always been wholly appreciated, I do appreciate the glimpse of the garden through the eyes of our boys. The view is one of wonder, magic and sense of adventure. Back in the adult world, it all too easy to take a very serious, sensible view of gardening. I blame all that latin. But, a dose of the kids and the formality evaporates, almost immediately.
In turn, I've spotted positive signs of my influence on them. Concerns about whether a plant has enough water. The ability to identify a daffodil. (Common names only, obvs). Adoption of pet worms, such as 'Skiddy', who quite frankly, is nothing short of miraculous - changing length, size, and colouring at the drop of a hat.
All in all, gardening with the kids is becoming increasingly harmonious. And I find myself wondering how our relationship in the garden will change and alter over the next few years. I can't wait to share a few laughs over plants with weird, wonderful and plain rude names. Will I be wondering around their garden in forty year's time, offering advice and help? I hope so. Once a gardener, always a gardener. But for now, we amble along together; occasionally crossing swords, but ultimately sharing a love, and an entirely different perspective, of our shared space.