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Gardening with your kids
Gardening with your kids
Scott Dunlop
Good morning super parents,

Aren’t you glad children are human beings and not plants? I know I am. Every failed pot plant I’ve ever had would agree. The “if you can look after something small, you can look after a child” principle is proven to be wrong with something as simple as a desk cactus.

I love the appearance of plants and the natural feel that they give a home, but I can never follow the simplest of care instructions. Even if all I have to do is give a plant a teaspoonful of water every second week, I’ll forget. I manage to make sure my children have three meals a day, that they get their homework done and that they organise their clothes and toys. They get to bed on time and get up when I ask them to. So why can’t I keep a plant alive?

You get people who claim to have green thumbs, flaunting their towering orchids. Orchids that are only supposed to live in a tropical rain forest are thriving in someone’s lounge in Muizenberg. It’s not the environment, then.

Just as with kids. Some children thrive in the harshest conditions, finding everything they need to get by with what little is available. Children are much more hardy than those little palm trees found on bathroom shelves.

Even when children are too young to communicate their needs, a parent will know what those needs are, and that’s a very special relationship. You might find yourself looking at other parents and think that they seem to be parenting so much better than you, but nobody knows your child the way you do.

In the same way that a garden can be overgrown, the state of your house doesn’t mean that the mess isn’t concealing something healthy – so appearances don’t matter, either.

I’m not advocating that we neglect our children, but rather suggesting that all those tiny tasks you already do without thinking are a form of pruning, fertilising, trimming, neatening and cultivating your family. There can be pressure on you to feel like you should be doing more somehow, but, chances are, you’re doing more than you think.

Parenting isn’t a passive activity, it’s amazingly active. Having a house full of living pot plants means that you get around to watering them now and then. That’s great, but it is nothing like the immense orchestration that comes to you naturally as you lead your kids through life.

Not the best parenting advice, ever, but maybe I’ve reminded some of you to water your African violets!

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