Can't live without them. Can't shoot them.
My apologies. It appears that line is reserved for wives.
Now that the parents of six year old Marquitos and three year old Celina are no longer concerned that I'm going to brainwash those young minds with bad Republican ideas (Hey Kids! Offshore oil drilling is good for the environment!) -- we're getting a healthy dose of the niece and nephew this year.
We could take the kids on a series of fun adventures like the zoo and outdoor play areas -- but who are you kidding? Kids are free labor man. Give a six year old boy the option of going to the zoo or "hey, look at that dirt pile," guess which option wins?
The kids are gardeners by default. No shame here whatsoever.
Actually -- to be honest? It's the three year old girl that was more interested in the big pile of planter mix dirt than the six year old boy. Oh -- sure - he loved playing "King of the Mountain" from time to time. But after getting his first taste of planting seeds last summer -- Marquitos was back for more in a big way this year.
Actually? For his age? He's quite advanced. I couldn't be more proud. There's a strange sense of accomplishment here that I cannot explain to you. It does bring tears to my eyes though. That much is true. I don't have children. But I'm actually teaching him something useful -- other than the "perfect pour" from the kegerator.
Of course -- he's getting pretty good at that I must say -- but I'll save that for the "Beer Blog."
I didn't know first grade graduates could be so advanced. Marquitos can read a package of seeds and understand where and when to plant. He can also plant in some mighty straight rows -- as evidenced by the rows of radishes, carrots, green onions, red leaf lettuce, beets and other vegetables that are coming up in straight lines.
They're teaching reading skills to first graders now? Really? I suppose I was a late bloomer for not learning this valued skill until college -- but that's another story for another day.
Despite his expertise in the garden -- Venus kept a close eye on him -- that much is sure. But it's almost as if she didn't really need to be there. And that's the wonderful thing. He almost didn't need us. We supplied the tools -- the seeds -- the dirt in the raised beds and that little boy went right to work. This is his second effort at planting following hit and miss training efforts last year (Why Kitty Hide?). The lessons appear to have paid off ten-fold. Marquitos is a natural. The lessons have sunk in. The kid is going to be working the dirt for a long time.
As for his sister? Not as much interest this year - although she did enjoy handing seed packets to her brother. She wasn't at all interested in planting -- preferring instead to charge up that mountain of leftover planter mix in the center of the backyard.
I was going to spread it out around the yard anyway. Why not let her take a crack at it?
I actually missed having her take part in the planting party. There's nothing quite like watching a bush bean seed emerge in the bed set aside for corn and wonder, "how did that get there?" I would later learn that she loved planting bush bean seeds so much -- she planted them in every corner of the yard.
At first -- I was a tad annoyed. I'll admit it. I'm Mr. "this goes there" and "that goes here." But there's something precious about a child's first planting efforts. Who knows? Maybe she got away with something when my back was turned at the kegerator.
Off on the kegerator tangent again? My apologies.
As for Marquitos? Well -- he just couldn't get enough of the gardening effort -- despite two solid days in the backyard. Who can waste time when there's radish seeds to plant? Oh -- and what about those watermelon seeds? Do those tomato starter plants need planting somewhere?
Marquitos is a Champion Seed Planter at a very young age. It appears that Venus and I have won half the battle. The kid understands what a radish is. He understands how to plant it. He understands where to plant it. He even knows when to plant.
Getting him to actually eat the garden wonders that he is responsible for?
That -- my friends -- is another battle for another day.
One victory at a time.