Friday, May 13, 2011

Seedfolks (Repost)

When we lived in Little Rock, my parents rented a garden plot in the fertile Arkansas River flood plain one year. They grew tomatoes, squash, and a bunch of other stuff I'm sure. What I remember most was playing in the dirt in the hot, humid Arkansas summer weekends. I remember the look and feel of the dried, parched earthen crust that, when penetrated with a my small shovel, would reveal moist, aromatic mud below. I remember moving dirt and driving through mud puddles with my Tonka trucks as my parents tended to their crops.

Years later, my parents were planting a tree in our front yard in Garland, TX. They asked me to help and I refused, unwilling to dirty my hands. I think I was eleven or twelve. My friend who happened to be over at the time, dove right in and helped while I just watched, wishing we could go back to playing G.I. Joe vs. Transformers.

Mini-Me and The Wubster (especially The Wubster) have been quite helpful with our yardwork and gardening lately. They'll dig holes and rake and water. They especially like to gather worms for us. Our small backyard garden is showing promising signs of future harvests, so, in a month or so, we'll see if the boys' hard work pays off with bountiful tomatoes, snap peas, and peppers.

I'm reposting a piece from two years ago, because, as with yesterday, it's an old favorite of which I was recently reminded.

Seedfolks (Originally posted November 7, 2009)

It didn’t take much, just a quick finger sweep to clear away some mud, a slight wiggle to loosen the ground’s grip, a gentle tug to release the prisoners from their five-month incarceration.

“A carrot! Daddy! A carrot! It came up!”

I know, buddy, just like we said it would! Do you want to eat it?


The dirt-encrusted beta-carotene stick was instantaneously in Mini-Me’s mouth.

Whoa! Wait until we wash off the dirt, okay?


When Mini-Me turned two, he received a copy of The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss. I’d never read the book as a child, but it soon became a bedtime favorite for all of us. In the story, a little boy plants carrot seeds and patiently waits for them to sprout while everyone else tells him, “They won’t come up!” The boy waits, and hopes, and waits, and waters, and waits, and pulls weeds, and waits, and ignores his big brother, and waits, and waits, and waits, and, finally, is rewarded with a carrot three times his size, which is quite fortunate because the kid’s got to be famished after never taking a break to eat.

We have video of Mini-Me ‘reading’ the book all by himself in that adorable way kids do when they’ve memorized a story their parents have read every night for months. It’s not nearly as adorable as the way my sister ‘read’ Green Eggs and Ham until my aunt and I sought relief by hiding it from her. She responded with a screaming, tearful recitation of the story throughout my grandparents’ house until our laughter evaporated, our souls cracked, and the book reappeared. Not that adorable, but close.

When I decided we’d plant a garden this past spring I knew I’d have to plant carrots. Of course, I decided to start a garden well after the recommended planting season and did about as much preparation as my seniors do for one of my end-of-the-school-year assignments. Nevertheless, we gave it a go.

As I toiled in the dirt, it became clear that Mini-Me’s love of The Carrot Seed didn’t translate to his love of actual carrot seeds. In fact, he became so focused on excavating earthworms that he dug up my carrot seeds. Twice. I persisted, though, and grabbed Mini-Me’s attention long enough to have him water the garden. All that was left for us to do was wait.

When Mini-Me was born I held him in my arms, tears welling, and his life flashed before my eyes. The Wubster brought about a similar experience on his birthday. It didn’t take long after each of their births for us to hear words of encouragement and advice:

“…enjoy ‘em at this age…they grow up so fast!”

“…you’ll wonder where the time goes!”
“…I remember when mine were this small…seems like just yesterday…”

“…don’t take anything for granted…love them deeply every single day…”

“…time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana…”

“…before you know it, they’ll be __________ (walking, talking, driving, leaving for college, living in your basement, married, arrested, putting you in a retirement home, etc)”

And wait…

Of course, waiting isn’t one of Mini-Me’s or The Wubster’s fortes. They like to grab life by whatever their brother has that they don’t. Luckily, I’d also planted tomatoes and jalapenos to keep us entertained (and me salsafied) until the carrots were ready. Every so often I’d get the boys out back to help water, pick tomatoes, or just look for worms in our little plot of land. That usually held their attention for eleven seconds (unless we actually found worms). It was during those fleeting eleven seconds, frustrated that the carrots didn’t seem to be growing, that I was reminded of just how quickly the boys were growing… just as everyone said they would.

The Wubster’s a pro at walking now even if he stumbles drunkenly after too much milk and still occasionally holds one arm in the air grasping a phantom hand for support. He’s even become pretty good at crawling, which he’d initially skipped, and he’s got quite the arm. He spends a lot of his time playing fetch with himself.

Mini-Me’s learning Spanish and Sign Language. His favorite word is ‘amarillo’…that’s yellow. He can read almost every capital letter, his name, and, as of this weekend, the word ‘Zoo’. He puts away his dishes after dinner, carried a jug of milk up from the basement by himself, flew a helicopter on Halloween, knows the ins and outs of his preschool’s fire alarm system, and can seriously rock out on his drums.

And wait…

When Mini-Me and I came inside I rinsed the mud from a couple carrots and we all sat down in the kitchen for a snack. As they devoured our harvest, each one looking so grown up, I couldn’t help but wonder how we’d already made it to this point. Where had the time gone? How had the infants who cuddled up and slept on our chests already become these handsome young boys?

It didn’t take much, just a constant supply of milk and quick finger foods to sweep up off the kitchen floor later, a silly giggle to loosen the tension after a tantrum, a gentle tug on our heartstrings to read just one more story, sing just one more song, spin in just one more circle, slide just one more time.

“We’re growing up! Daddy! We’re growing up! We’re getting bigger!”
I know, guys, just like everyone said you would!

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