This weekend was a long weekend, which meant an extra day as a family and while I did go into the office for 4 hrs with the children (we have a pretty wonderful set up/routine, they do 2 hrs of reading and arithmetic, followed by a 30 minute game and then a much anticipated dvd to watch (they only get about 1.5 hrs of screen time a month, yes you read that right!) the day was spent gardening and hiking and gardening some more. We planted cucumbers, kale, spinach, watercress, pumpkins, yellow courgettes and a few flowers. My only complaint is I’d like at least 10 plots (the plots here are very very tiny, about 1/5th the size of a small allotment plot in the UK). But I’m very grateful we have it! I spent a great deal of time as we planted, marveling at how quickly the children have changed, from shrieks of horror at the very thought of planting, getting dirty or spending time with flowers, to pure delight that we spend so much time in nature – discussions about what grows how, when and where, and lots of pictures drawn about our adventures. In fact, they were so enthused today, I couldn’t really tell you what is planted where. It’s a mystery garden of sorts !
And as we sat, all showered (therefore cooler – boy was it hot today) and enjoyed dinner together tonight, when it came turn to share what we are thankful for, both were filled with enthusiasm about planting, flowers, seeds, hiking, finding sticks, playing tag in the forest and having frugal, simple, fun adventures, not that different from children 40 years ago. It was a reminder to me, how gentle encouragement and persistence pays off. When they arrived, both were used to 2-3 hrs of tv a night, video games, weekends at theme parks, meals at Mc*Donalds, sugary breakfasts, well, sugary everything (nary a vegetable in sight!). Today there are no video games, nor anything electronic for that matter, they have no clue what is on tv, nor what the must have toy/game/gadget of the moment is, they love art, gardening, learning about plants, bird watching, swimming, walking and playing games with sticks. They love trying new foods and laugh at some of the misadventures we’ve had (hot Sri Lankan food is still fresh in their memories). And with each day, with each exposure to a different life, their confidence to be themselves and not follow a crowd grows, they realize how many things they excel at and see that learning isn’t about studying for a spelling test. And with each passing day like today, I feel like we are all, well and truly, home.