This is the first post of a series called "PICTURES OF PARENTING".
The idea started last night during a discussion of Charlotte Mason's material on the subject of parents needing to let children alone. Let's start in the garden to find out more.
"Fruit trees not only produce a rewarding crop of fruit each year, but are also great as a decorative garden feature, providing spring flowers, fragrance and summer shade. Fruit trees are actually easy to grow and many trees will manage with relatively little care." GROWING GREAT FRUIT TREES: http://www.mitre10.co.nz/how_to_guides/gardening/growing_great_fruit_trees/
This fridge magnet of the teddybear gardener, now lives on our refrigerator. I bought it years ago one Fathers Day for my Dad. He was a gardener, a neat dressed man, in garden shoes and gloves, shirt with no tie. But the tie, apron and bear-face expression of confidence, a little fuddy-duddy with complete approachableness, was my Dad, so I bought it for him.
He loved his garden, and knew his garden. He wasn't chained to it, but he mowed, pruned, mulched, mowed, fertilised, mowed, weeded - especially the lawn, watered, mowed... so that it always looked great, actually inspirational in the spring and summer.
Charlotte Mason in her book, Home Education, says, "The gardener, it is true, 'digs about and dungs,' prunes and trains, his peach tree; but that occupies a small fraction of the tree's life: all the rest of the time the sweet airs and sunshine, the rains and dews, play about it and breathe upon it, get into its substance, and the result is - peaches. But let the gardener neglect his part, and the peaches will be no better than sloes." page 134.
I believe that sloes are North American fruit trees whose fruit is tart, rather than sweet like a peach.
I am impressed when I think about my Dad's gardening skills and attribute the beauty of our family garden had, to him. But Charlotte reminds me that his part was not the only factor that was going on in growing the garden. For a far bigger portion of time, the trees and plants were influenced by the air, sun, rain and dew - getting into their substance. My Dad had no control over these things!! He simply did "his part" and the plants knew how to do the rest.
This is a picture for us of parenting. We have our "part" to do, the caring like digging, dunging, pruning and training of our children, but for children to grow and develop 'sweet fruit' in their lives, like the peaches, they need a far bigger portion of time, in Charlotte's words, to be "let alone". This involves not giving "perpetual commands and directions - a running fire of do and don't; but letting them go their own way and grow, having first secured that they will go the right way, and grow to fruitful purpose." - back to our small part of digging...
I loved the point in the quote above from the Mitre 10 website, that fruit trees not only produce fruit, but give decorative, perfume and flower beauty in the garden and contribute to the garden by giving it shade. This is the result and function of a well grown fruit tree. This too, is our desire in relation to our children. That they contribute into our family and into the community in helpful ways, and make life a joy and inspiration for others.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ as you go about your "digging and dunging", keep the proportion correct of "letting them alone". All the best with your gardening.