Growing blooming mommies can be done easily in most home gardens with the proper cultivation techniques. The preschool students love the idea of a blooming mommy with flowers growing out of her head. Today they each made a portrait of their own blooming mommy on the seed packets for our special Mommy Seeds.
The Mother's Day projects are nearing completion. Like the Little Red Hen, the preschoolers grew the plants last summer, collected the seeds last fall, saved the plastic applesauce containers from their lunches this winter, drilled holes in the containers this spring, then filled them with potting soil, planted the seeds for the flowers, and marked the flowers with plant stakes. The Mommy Seed packets are the Mother's Day cards to accompany the gift of flowers.
The children are learning about cultivation, which they define as "taking care of the things we plant". At the same time, the children are being cultivated.
I've spread out my old American Heritage Dictionary, turned to cultivate and cultivation. Preschool is all about forming, refining, educating, fostering, and nurturing. To educate, we improve and prepare, plow and fertilize, tend and till.
Cultivation can also mean "socialization through training and education to develop one's mind or manners". Preschool is a never-ending battle for acculturation, which is "the adoption of the behavior patterns and norms of the surrounding culture". We aren't talking about diversity and multicultural awareness here. That is the territory of my eldest son working with university students. We are talking about not picking noses in public, and remembering to flush the toilet, the behavioral norms of the surrounding population of human beings! It's often a harrowing experience.
Till means to prepare for the raising of crops by plowing, harrowing, and fertilizing. It means to work at, to labor. It is definitely hard work to get preschoolers to stop picking their noses and start flushing the toilet. The word "till" seems to carry the frustrations of hundreds of generations of farmers on its back.
My young sons each went through a John Deere phase of fascination with farm implements. As a MOBO, I excelled in the choo-choo railroad fascination phase, and performed bravely in the truck stop big rig phase. I could identify every Matchbox car pulled from the three-gallon tub by year, model, and color. I really knew my hook-and-ladder trucks in the firefighter stage. I was damn tolerant in the military vehicle phase, if I do say so myself, waiting out G.I. Joe. I was never very good at farm implements, aircraft ID, or motorcycles, though. If I crammed for the test I could pass, but I never retained the information!
Harrowing experiences sometimes require using a plunger instead of a farm implement. A harrow is used to break and level plowed ground. It's a farm implement with heavy disks and teeth. To harrow is to inflict great distress or torment on the mind. Or perhaps on the foot. My mom used to receive an annual Christmas letter from an old high school chum. The best year the letter recounted the farmer dropping a sharp harrow upon his foot, but having to pull the harrow teeth out of the punctured foot so he could drive himself to the regional hospital because his wife couldn't shift gears on the manual transmission pick-up truck.
Sometimes on the commute home from work I chant, "It was a tough day, but at least I didn't drop the harrow on my foot." Being a mommy is a tough job, too. There were a lot of days when I felt I'd dropped the harrow on my foot as a parent. The most difficult years were those when I felt unable to shift gears.
Fortunately, there were many more days when I felt like flowers were blooming out of my head!
© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder