Gardening with kids can be enlightening. Fun, entertaining, eye-opening.
The key to successful garden management is to do a little bit everyday. More specifically, working in small batches is the key to keeping the kids on top of their garden chores. Let’s face it, some tasks aren’t fun. They’re simply necessary. Take weeding, for example. The kids don’t enjoy it. It’s not their favorite part of gardening. It’s just another job that must be done. So what do we do to distract ourselves from the tedium?
We tell stories! We take turns and create them as we work down our prospective beds, alleviating some of the boredom. It’s actually quite fun when you here how your children’s minds work. My daughter’s stories tend to focus on girls; their likes and dislikes, their squabbles and resolutions. My son on the other hand, veers toward the action-adventure. Go figure.
So it makes sense when he comments on the bees buzzing nearby his row that he would compare them to an action-adventure movie, right?
“Hey, Mom.” He pointed to the enormous bee hovering about the broccoli florets now bursting with bloom. “Do you know what that is?”
“No,” I played along.
“It’s a drone bee.”
The boy’s an avid fan of Star Wars and sees everything in terms of warriors and epic struggles. Why not bees? “Really?”
“Yep,” he stated matter-of-fact, as he states most things. Boys, I’ve learned, like to have a handle on the facts. “He’s the defender.”
I suppressed a smile. As his mother, I’m a firm advocate for his imagination and encourage him to go on. “Wow. I didn’t know they had defender bees.”
He promptly left his row to come over and explain. “He’s not a worker bee. His job is to protect the queen bee.”
“What about the other two.” They were much smaller than the larger one under discussion. “Are they worker bees?”
Walking back for closer inspection, he nodded and pointed. “See how they fly into the flower? They’re collecting pollen so they can spread it around. I remember this from primary. That was a year ago and I still remember it!”
“See,” I told him. “That means you learned the information. That’s great!”
Proudly, he strolled back to me and expounded upon his drone bees, the queen, and all the workers, then decided he wanted to take their picture, which I offered to do for him. “Let me do it, honey. So you don’t get stung.” My camera is NOT a toy and well-intentioned as he may be, is off limits to the lad!
That evening, I relayed the story to my husband. “It was so cute. He called it a drone bee, like Star Wars.” I shook my head. “I think I’m going to comment on it on my blog.”
My husband turned to me. “You might want to check your facts, first. I think there is something called a drone bee.”
He nodded. “I believe so.”
I glanced away and laughed. “And to think I thought it was one of his stories.”
Hmph. Apparently, one of us learned their botany lesson better than the other! Sure enough, I went online to check my facts and there it was — drone bees. While not the defenders of the queen but her fertilizers, I was duly impressed — for real, this time. The kid knows his stuff!
Yet another reason I enjoy gardening with the kids. Not only do I enjoy listening to their creativity, I learn things along the way. Bonding, 101. Our visitor may actually be a carpenter bee, as he was diligently working the pollen, which from my understanding, drone bees take no part in. But this fellow is definitely a worker bee.
On another note, the kids noticed some interesting developments in the garden. “Hey, look at this!”
I gazed down at the sprout and wondered, How did that get there? It’s definitely not a bean. Zucchini, squash…cucumber? I wracked my brain to remember which vegetables we recently threw in the compost pile that could have produced this little guy. At the rate we eat vegetables, it could be any one of them!
Hmmm… Either way, it needs to be moved. I run a tight garden and my rows are not only evenly spaced, but organized according to family and flavor, and staked out to differentiate between planting dates! This way I can track how long each plant actually takes from seed to harvest. I know the information can be found on seed packets and planting sheets, but I’ve come to learn those are “guidelines” at best, as my real life experience has often proven otherwise.
With the busy garden season at hand, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us tomorrow!
Gardening — share the adventure with a child.