I love to watch my dad and Gideon plant corn together. My dad is so careful and wants a job done right; that's how he's always been. He guides Gideon's hands when the corn spills out of the packet, missing the contraption (what is that thing called?) and falling on the ground instead.
"Now, now, you've got to be careful...you can't just...let it spill wherever," as he picks up the kernels and places them with the others.
"Now walk steady, keep the pace even, not too fast, but not too slow," and Gideon eagerly (but carefully) begins pushing it up and down the rows. He wants to do this big job right because he is growing up and adult tasks (like the planting, and mowing the lawn with the riding mower, and using the weed whacker) are beginning to be within his reach. I know he wants validation from the grown ups he admires, especially my dad.
I woke Gideon up this morning and he moaned, expecting me to tell him to start cleaning his room, or practicing piano, or beginning his math lesson. (there's no rest for the weary in this house, nope, thirty minutes of work before breakfast. Yep.)
Instead, I said, "Hurry up, Grandpa wants to plant corn first thing this morning." Upon those words he bounded out of bed in a split second and I teased him about usually pretending to be asleep when I try to get him up to start school.
"I don't Mom, I promise!"
"I know...and I'm sure if you had to plant corn every day for five years the way you have with piano and school, you wouldn't be as eager to wake up for it, either."
"Huh? I don't know what you mean."
"It's okay, Buddy, never mind. Just go out and plant your corn."
Whenever my dad is enjoying himself, he begins to softly whistle. I always think of this when I think of my dad. He whistles when he hits a good shot on the golf course, and he whistles when he's gardening. I wonder if he learned this from his dad, a farmer. My dad grew up on a farm with seven siblings just west of here, and always talks of those memories fondly. After leaving home, I'd guess he's had a garden nearly every year of his life, an impressive, lush garden that invites you to walk through it and explore it and examine all the growing plants, eagerly trying to guess what each of them are. Weed killers and fertilizers are things he is not afraid of in the least, hah, he would rather have all the vegetables grow big and healthy and not have his labors eaten up by bugs.
My older sister is a gardener too; some years she goes all out and has a huge garden, all organic, natural fertilizers, weeding by hand, and other years she doesn't garden at all. I'm not much of a gardener. But I think at least Gideon has picked up the same urge to see things grow that my dad has. Like his grandpa, Gideon too gets caught up in the magic of placing dead, wrinkled, tiny seeds into the soil and watching them transform over the summer into a jungle of delicious food, or beautiful flowers.
The tools are part of the appeal. There's the corn planter, which Gideon seems to have mastered under my dad's watchful eye. Gideon hasn't yet used the rototiller. But he's thrilled to ride in the tractor with my dad. I'm sure he'll soon learn to drive it. A lawn mower, a trimmer, a chain saw, anything with a motor that will get a job done to better a yard or a garden. And my dad owns plenty of that kind of thing.
Outside- that's the favorite place for Gideon and his grandpa. Outside doing work that doesn't feel like work at all.