It was Tuesday evening, and we were in the family tag-team process of clearing and cleaning supper dishes/ preparing kids’ lunches/ picking up toys/ herding kids upstairs to the bath. Hubby and I had both come home from work on the later side, and my mother could only drop the kids off once we were home, and everyone had to eat something, so…. It was pretty late to be just starting the bedtime routine. Like, seven- thirty-ish.

Babyboy had brought a bundle of sticks into the house when he came in, so as we all headed up the stairs, I opened the front door to throw them out into the yard. But, as soon as I opened the door, one of our cats darted out. I held the door open in an attempt to grab the sneaky kitty.. .But then, the kids darted out.

“Look at the green plants!” exclaimed Babygirl. There is a dense cluster of daffodil greens just beginning to poke through the dirt in the garden by our front steps.

It wasn’t that cold; by this heinous winter’s standards, it was pretty nice out. Babygirl and Babyboy crouched over the mound of little green spears in wonder. Meantime, I chased the cat.

When I came back with the furry felon in hand, I found Babyboy pulling up the daffodils!

“No! Oh no don’t do that! You’re hurting the plants! They won’t grow if you pull them up, honey, they won’t grow into pretty flowers!” My shrill tone alarmed Babyboy, who had had no understanding that he was mauling what would become a gorgeous yellow bouquet. He froze for a few moments, staring at the ripped greens on the ground at his feet. Then, he jumped up and ran inside the house.

I thought I had traumatized him, so after I got Babygirl back inside, I went looking for him, calling out “It’s okay, honey, It’s okay, you didn’t mean to hurt the flowers! I know you didn’t!”

He came trotting around the corner from the kitchen, with a plastic bowl and a tablespoon. He ran past me to the front door, which I had closed again.

“Open the door, Mommy,” he pleaded, holding up his bowl and spoon. “Please, Mommy, we can plant them here. I can put dirt in this bowl and plant them here. Then they will grow.” He was so genuinely excited and sincere. My heart melted.

This is why, at almost eight o’clock on a cool March weeknight evening, you could see me and the kids crouched by the garden, working quietly. Babyboy spooned snow-damp earth into the little blue bowl. He and Babygirl picked up the torn shoots, one by one, and stuck them into the dirt, carefully mounding it around so that they were were standing upright.

Babyboy placed the bowl on the front stoop and proudly declared “See Mommy, we planted them in there. The plants are okay. They will grow.”

Oh, so, so sweet. Of course, ever since, I’ve been wondering what I’m going to tell him when he finds that the little green shoots  have become shriveled and brown; how to soften the blow, that they couldn’t be saved. How can I begin to teach these kids about the nature of… nature? Things grow, things die… It all requires time, and patience…

I’m thinking we’ll buy some seeds, plant them in little pots, and grow them in the kitchen, so the kids can experience the whole process. We’ll all get a little dirty. We’ll grow a few hardy herbs and things that can be transplanted outside when it gets warm.

So, so sweet.