Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Now Seeds, Start Growing!

Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel continues to be one of my all-time favorite books EVER. This is coming from an English major, a former English teacher, AND someone who has an MA in children's literature! So, I've read a LOT of books, especially a lot of children's books.

This particular book of Lobel's features the beloved Frog and Toad in various adventures; one of which is the "The List," about which I wrote before. My daughter and I read this book all the time, so the stories are always fresh in mind. Since I started some of my herb and vegetable seeds last night, I've had Toad's cry from "The Garden," "Now seeds, start growing!" running through my head.

In "The Garden," Toad sees Frog's garden full of beautiful flowers. Frog assures Toad that he, too, can have a beautiful garden, but it's hard work. Toad plants some seeds and commands them to start growing. Nothing happens. He yells at them. Nothing happens. Toad thinks his seeds are afraid to grow. When Frog notices Toad yelling at his seeds, he suggests that Toad leave them alone and let the sun shine on them, the rain fall on them, and so forth. But Toad commences what can only be described as a seed nurturing regimen: he sings to them, he reads them stories by candlelight, he plays music for them, and he reads them poetry. During the course of his "enrichment program," the rain falls, the sun shines, and day and night pass. When he falls asleep, exhausted from his hard work, the seeds begin to sprout. Frog wakes him up with the good news, and Toad exclaims, "You were right, Frog.  It was very hard work."

Isn't this the way we operate with our children? Sometimes we resort to yelling when there's no immediate response. Often we exert all kinds of effort to "enrich" them: taking them sports activities, filling our week with play date after play date, signing them up for little gymnastics classes, starting music lessons early, and fretting over any slight deviation from whatever we perceive as "normal." In reality, kids are like seeds: they need sunshine to shine on them, a little rain to fall on them, regular days and nights, and they will grow! (I could elaborate on the spiritual implications of this story, but that's another post for another day!)

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