When Jenna was three she discovered some blue gravel that had been dumped by the shed. Biff had left it there after cleaning out a fish tank. Jenna thought that they were beautiful seeds and wanted to plant them. I tried to explain that they weren’t seeds – but she was insistent that we bury them so that they would grow into a beautiful flower.
Everyday she would check the spot where the “seeds” had been planted – impatient that the flowers had not bloomed overnight. Again, I tried to explain to her that even if the seeds had been real seeds – flowers do not spring up overnight. It takes time. Especially in our family, it seems.
Jenna did not stop checking. She was determined that her flower would grow. She watered the area. She talked to it. She was certain that a flower would grow. I really did not want her to be crushed and so devastated that she would not want to try real seeds later on.
I went out and purchased two pinwheel type garden decorations and put them in the ground above where the gravel had been “planted” – real as the seeds. Jenna was thrilled. And so when the time came for the preschool students to grow their own seeds she was not at all reluctant. Her bean would grow just as her flowers had. It was very exciting.
Jenna also liked snails. They were very fascinating creatures. She would watch them and talk to them. One day she found a whole family of snails.
“Look mom!” she pointed with sheer excitement, “A mommy, a daddy, two teenagers, and a little bitty baby.”
She stopped to talk to them. I gave her about ten minutes before I reminded her that we had barely just left the house and had to continue on our way to school.
“Bye snails,” she waved and continued on her way. She was so disappointed that they weren’t there as we walked back from school – nor were they there the next day.
Perhaps a week or two had gone by before she found three snails out on the sidewalk near our house.
“Do you think these are the same ones?” she asked. “I wonder what happened to the parent and the other teenager. Maybe they’re out looking for food.”
It was a year and a half later when Amber’s mom asked if she could leave Amber with me as she a mandatory class for her work. I told her that I had planned on going to Midvale to pass out invites for my mom’s surprise birthday party but I could take Amber just as well – and that was fine. Amber came with car seat and I strapped both girls into the car.
It was nice having them with me as I could just hand each of them invitations and give them direction to take it to this house or that and then I didn’t have to keep stopping the car and turn the motor off to do it myself.
When we got to Ruby’s house, I had only five invitations left. The girls found a haven in Ruby’s yard, and I asked Ruby if it would be okay if I left the girls with her while I went and got the last five.
Ruby was working in the garden and her yard was lovely. She was digging holes and making remarks about “all the snails” Both Jenna and Amber perked up and assisted Ruby by picking up snails and each started her own collection.
When I returned, the girls had lined their snails up on the table and were eagerly watching them “race” as they’d speak words of encouragement hoping that one of her snails would win. Jenna announced that we’d be taking them home.
“Snails don’t belong in the car!” I said firmly. “Not my car anyway. Even if they’re in containers. We are not taking the snails home. Sorry”
I think Ruby distracted them with something else. I believe we threw the snails away. Ruby and I told both girls that snails are bad for the garden. I don’t think Jenna believed me.
She wasn’t reading when I purchased a kid’s gardening book at a thrift store. We looked at it. I pointed out that snails were in the “pest” category. But then so were caterpillars – her absolute favorites creature. A book against snails and caterpillars certainly was not a book that she was interested in. I put the book away and forgot about it.
Recently, while searching for something else, I came across the Kid’s Gardening book. She has been reading it and telling us everything that we’ve been doing wrong in our home garden and how to improve it. She still loves snails and caterpillars but has accepted that they do damage to gardens. But they are fascinating creatures and she loves them.
Some of us are gardeners that plant and sow seeds. Some of us plant actual seeds. Some of us bury gravel or “magic beans” in the ground and leave it at that. Some of us work like lady bugs or bees and help the garden. Some of us are like snails and caterpillars that crawl through life expecting free handouts without working for it. And it doesn’t matter our capacity. God loves each of us. He doesn’t attempt to throw any of us away. His love for us is perfect. Even more than Jenna loves snails.