The other night with some cold weather coming, Hannah, Further, and I headed out to the garden to cover some crops for the coming frosts. It was a little chilly and we had a lot of work to do, but Further really wanted to help. Of course, even when we’re in a rush, we try to encourage this. So I let him grab the end of the row cover and begin to pull the long, 100’ piece of fabric down the paths. And I watched somewhat in awe as he did precisely what we asked him to do.
Now, I love my son dearly—DEARLY—but his role on this farm heretofore has been mostly that of an obstacle. As soon as we get in a good rhythm he gets upset, or gets hurt, or he gets too hot. That’s all fine. This is the life of farming with children and I care for my son’s safety and health above literally everything else on the planet. But he certainly makes farming challenging.
However, as I watched him pulling that fabric down the paths it occurred to me that at some point in the not-so-distant future, my son will genuinely be helpful. I knew this when we decided to have a child, of course, but in our three years of watching him stomp on plants or crawl all over us when we were planting, I admit I had forgotten. I had forgotten there will come a day when I can ask him to help me in the garden, and he will be able to do it.
Being helpful to us, though, isn’t the whole of the story. Being helpful could just as easily be doing his own thing while mama and papa work. It’s that he wants to be with us, to work in the garden. That’s what I find special. He will be asked to help the family sometimes, but I don’t ever want to force my son to farm—I don’t want to force my son into farming if it’s not something he wants to do. If we can inspire him to do it, however, that will be a success.
So as this year wraps up I am looking forward to the Spring with our soon-to-be three-year-old. It will be another challenging season, no doubt, but if by the end of next year he still wants to help us pull the row cover, or plant the garlic as he did later in the week, then I will know we’re on the right track. In fact, I’m a little sad I didn’t get any pictures of him with that giant piece of fabric dragging behind him. It was pretty darn cute. But if we do a good job of this parenting thing, I’m sure I’ll have plenty more opportunities next year to snap some photos of our little farmer in action.