June 3, 2010

In the garden, with Colin

Well, we're not back in the garden yet (it rained again last night), but I hold out hope that we will be soon, because my little boy was born with a green thumb. Just like his mama (and his grandmama and his great-grandmama), he loves puttering around in the garden. And his mama loves it that he is finally old enough to be in the garden mostly unsupervised ... for short periods of time.

At 16 months old, Colin is finally at the age when he can occupy himself for whole minutes at a time, giving me the much-needed opportunity to catch up on a few things around the house, or--even better--outside. But much to my delight, I've discovered he can occupy himself for up to a whole hour when we are in the garden--provided that I've prepared a few little projects that can sustain a little boy's interests.

Our first success was "weeding" those pesky dandelions in the backyard, although I do worry that he might take the lesson to well to heart and start weeding all of the flowers in my garden. Our next task was a bit trickier. On the day I had 40-something tomato and pepper seedling to replant, I knew I would need Colin to be really fixated on a project of his own if I were to get them all repotted between dinnertime and bedtime. Fortunately, since Colin likes to do whatever his mama is doing, I set him up with his own "seedlings" to "repot." I sucked up my aversion to messes, and gave Colin a tray filled with potting soil, peat pots, water, and "seeds" (smooth white stones that were too large for him to swallow). Of course, the end result was a whole lot of mud, but he had a ball. And I got all of my seedlings repotted.

Since Colin has proved such an industrious little gardener, I decided that he needed his own gardening tools, just like his mama. So a couple of weeks ago, I made him the gift of his own metal trowel, rake, spade, and watering can, and he loves them--although he may need a few lessons on their proper use. So far, he thinks the watering can is for watering himself.

Our next project? A sandbox, so that Colin will stop digging up my flowerbeds. What kinds of projects--indoors or out--really keep your little ones occupied?

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