Last weekend, Abby, Chloe and I planted our garden. We bought some good soil to start our garden beds with; they were in the big 50lb bags. She, of course, wanted to carry one. So I let her try to pick one up. It’s so cute when she doesn’t seem intimidated by things that are clearly bigger and heavier than she is. As it turned out, she didn’t carry one to the car like she wanted to, she did want to try and help Abby put one in the trunk. She was doing a pretty good job actually, then the weight of the bag bumped her fingers to the car when she couldn’t lift it high enough. She was more upset at being in pain than she was disappointed that she couldn’t lift the bag, thank goodness. I told her she did a pretty good job lifting something so heavy. After that, we went to the nursery and chose which foods we were going to grow and bought some seeds and starts. She liked running around the nursery and following the resident cat, Millie. At one point she had to go to the bathroom and after I took her there, she wouldn’t let me in with her because she’s “big enough to do it on her own.” She also informed me that she doesn’t need me to wipe her anymore… ever. Even when she’s pooped. Well, ok then. On the way back to find Abby, she stopped and was very interested in the succulent collection. She noticed how they looked different than other more familiar leafy plants. She also saw the cactus plants nearby and commented about how the succulents must be “related” to the cactus.
-- Side story –
Writing that comment reminded me of another thing she said the other day. We were coloring a picture of a gorilla together. “Mom- “ (I think she starts EVERY sentence this way….) “- Gorillas are a cousin of humans. It’s obvious because of how his hands are and the way he can stand up, and our faces are similar.” She learns a lot about how animals are cousins of each other. She knows about birds and their relationship with dinosaurs. And she applies the concept to many things that are similar- which is why the cactus story reminded me of this one. I didn’t get into explaining any controversy about evolution or telling her that maybe only some people believe that. Especially because: I said – “You think so?” and she said – “I KNOW so, mommy” OK. No arguing with her on this one. I still love how she says things like “and our faces are similar”. My little scientist.
So we were at the nursery choosing plants for our garden. She was surprisingly un-interested in choosing the starts. But once we got to the seeds she was all about it. She chose some seeds for round carrots and dragon carrots. She was super excited about planting the seeds. At first she wanted to grow watermelon, but was fairly quickly distracted when she saw the “cool” carrots. (Dragon carrots are deep purple and red colors, and round carrots are, well… round)
Then we went out to Abby’s house and started our work in the garden. Chloe helped a bit with the rake to smooth the top soil. After about 30 seconds she was ready to plant the seeds. As Abby and I worked planting the garden, Chloe came in and out of the scene to plant some seeds here and there. But mostly she was playing with the bugs and worms and the water and mud surrounding the garden area. She found one puddle in particular that was super fun and she had a great time getting completely soaked and muddy. Only after that, she informed me she needed to go to the bathroom. So I helped her get her shoes and socks off and in and out of the house. (of course she informed me again that she didn’t want me in the bathroom with her.) When we went back outside, she just wanted her bare feet with her pants rolled up. All of these things lead to one of the best parts of the day for me. Here I was, with Abby, planting a garden I’d been super excited about and Chloe is having a ball. She’s getting muddy and stomping through the puddles and “planting” various weeds in “her” puddle. The weather is great, not too hot or cold. I’m spending a perfect afternoon with two of my most favorite people. Then I realize another reason I’m so crazy happy. I’m thinking about how it’s these are the types of experiences that Chloe is going to remember. When days like this happen I think about her words years from now…..”I remember when I was little and mom would be working in the garden… She always let me pick some stuff to plant, and I liked playing nearby in the puddles and mud” I think about how the smell of dirt might someday remind her of Spring and time outside with mom. Even if she doesn’t remember this day in particular, she’ll have it in the history of experiences that will someday be the childhood she looks back on.
….As we finished up the garden and it was time to clean up, it was clear that she could not wear her muddy, wet shoes. I didn’t have any others with us. So we put dry pants and socks on her and we headed to the mall. She was excited to be walking through the mall with no shoes on. All she wanted to do was slip and slide everywhere. We got a couple pair of shoes that she really liked and she promptly labeled them: “The Really Really Fast Ones” (Nike’s) and “The Really Really Cool Ones” (Converse)
Oh man, watching her with her new shoes was so awesome. She was in love. She couldn’t stop looking at them and talking about them. She said that her friends at school were going to be “so impressed”. I remember how important and excited I still feel when I get new shoes. There’s just something about that. And there I was, hanging out with her thinking, again, about how her life is being shaped before my eyes. Sometimes it seems like time goes by so fast I’m already looking back on things even as they are happening.
After the mall, we left Abby to go home and settle down for bed. Chloe and I had a couple hours of time just the two of us. We read books and talked and did some “activity book” stuff. I love being her Mommy.
I don’t know if Chloe will remember this day we had. But it was so so special for me.
It also got me thinking about my responsibility (and interest and excitement) about being the one who creates opportunities for experiences and memories for her. She is going to be 5 in a couple weeks and… man… I just feel the importance of making all the time count. This day, planting a garden and getting new shoes was the catalyst of me beginning to plan an entire summer filled with fun, meaningful, memorable things with her. This week, I’ve been literally mapping out the next four months. I want to somehow, even with me working all week, make summer feel like summer. For both of us.