About a year ago, I was at a preschool back to school night for the girls. The kids were a month into their “school year” and we were seeing what our little ones had been up to lately. There were several cute exhibits the teachers had set up showcasing what our preschoolers had been working on and what their interests were. One board was covered with 3×5 cards which had each been labeled with a different “profession”. On the back side of the card was the child’s name who wanted to be that when they grew up…a sort of guessing game to see if we knew our kid’s career aspirations. Now, granted I had a 2 month old at the time, and hadn’t slept in about…5 years…and I was adjusting to 3 little ones and trying to figure out how to allocate appropriate one-on-one time with each…but still, I thought, I know my kids. This would be a cinch! Ridiculously easy actually because right away I saw “Elsa”. And my eldest is still obsessed with all things Frozen. I was full of shock when the flip side did not hold my daughter’s name. But then I saw “singer”, and Isla is constantly singing and loves the spotlight. Nope! Ok must be “princess”. No. Teacher? Mermaid? Didn’t think it was “firefighter”…or “doctor”… As I was running out of plausible options I was confused. And slightly worried that an onlooking parent might notice me rapidly flipping over so many wrong hypotheses. Trust me people, I’m definitely slipping, but I swear I know my kid!! I was down to the last card: “Farmer”. Isla had never talked to me about being a farmer. There must have been a mistake, I thought, and Isla’s 3×5 got misplaced. At least I would be exonerated from parental ignorance if that were the case.
It only got worse from there. Another board had “my favorite thing to do with my mommy”. Listen, I try to do cool stuff with my kids. We bake cookies, go to the park, read a ton of books…I’m a decent parent for the most part. Isla’s favorite thing to do with me, according to this stupid poster board, was “plant flowers together”. I literally could remember one, ONE SINGLE time, that I had done that with her. We had planted some seeds, and they had turned out to be too old, and they didn’t grow. And apparently she had not only remembered it, but loved it and wrote it down with her teachers.
On the way home that night, I remembered that funny enough, my answer at her age to “what do you want to be when you grow up?” was also “farmer”. The adult would then usually laugh, as if that was a slightly abnormal desire for a small girl. When asked what kind of farmer I wanted to be, I would respond with “pink farmer”. Then the adult would often say something like “oh, you must want to farm pink pigs!” Um, gross, definitely not! I just wanted to be a pink farmer, because pink is awesome. Turns out my pink-loving daughter, who is not very much like me, is a little bit after all.
When I got home, the girls were already asleep. But first thing in the morning I talked to Isla about the back to school night and what I had learned. “Isla, I met your teachers last night and saw some of the work you’ve been doing! But I have a question, you want to be a farmer when you grow up?” “Yes! I want to be a farmer like Grandpa!” Ahhhh…. ok this is making more sense now. “And you love planting flowers with me?” “Oh ya. It’s my FAVORITE thing to do”.
It wasn’t long after that enlightening evening that we began to get ready for our move out of state. The next months were filled with the chaos of packing up our entire life. And since it was also fall, there wasn’t a lot of green thumb activities going on at the Varghese house. But I didn’t forget about this gardening thing and the guilt for not engaging in my daughter’s favorite activity continued to plague me (another genetic trait I have along with hoarding..). When we moved into this house, there wasn’t a lot that was left here that excited me. But on the big front porch, they did leave some old, solid, chippy paint, antique planters. They were empty and longing to be filled with flowers. Before we were even living in the house, we went to work planting. And sure enough, Isla was super into it.
It’s crazy how fast things grow here…plants, weeds, our girls… Everything was spilling out of the planters within a few weeks. The girls really did get into the whole process and have loved watering them and watching them bloom. My guilt has subsided and Isla is learning the names and pointing out “Spanish moss”, “vinca”, and “sweet potato vine” to anyone who cares to listen (boom! homeschool 2020).
I’ve realized lately how much plants can add to a front porch, back porch, and each interior room. A room without a plant seems to be missing some life now! I am not naturally talented with growing stuff, nor keeping things alive, so a lot of this is new for me. I’m also learning about what types of plants thrive here in TN. I would love to hear about what you are growing and loving interior or exterior. The girls and I plan to add some more plant babies to our collection…even though Isla has since shifted career paths and is now pretty set on becoming a “pirate”.