Last year, when I embarked on my first community garden experience with a friend, I had visions of my son learning how plants grow and where his food came from and "helping" in the garden. He had fun with my neighbor's daughter who shared the garden with us, but that was about it. This year, I've been more realistic. I try to do most of my garden stuff as my own personal "me" time. On weekends or other times when I don't have a preschooler in tow because I realize his interest level is close to zilch.
Occasionally because of the weather pattern or my schedule and needing to go to the garden to pick produce, I've brought my son along. More recently I've found that bringing a snack and plopping him up in the base of a tree has been helpful (high enough he can't run off, but low enough nothing would break if he fell). This was working well for a while, but even with a popsicle in the tree, he grew bored the other day. I'm pretty sure a four year old's whines are not fertilizer for the plants- or a mother's nerves.
The other day I still needed to water the garden a bit more so I asked him to help me. No interest. I tried to think about what else I could do to keep him from running away from the garden and away from where I could see him. I don't know what I was thinking when I enticed him with, "You can spray the plants and you can spray Mommy!". I think I envisioned a nice cooling spray or mist.
Instead, I found myself afterwards needing to squeeze the water out of my garments, even my undergarments. My kid drenched me. We had a full out water war of epic proportions. He had a blast chasing me around with the water. I, in turn, tried to wrestle it out of his hands to turn the tables and spray the plants. In the meantime, the plants couldn't help but get a little spray. A bathing suit would have been a good idea, I thought in retrospect. Oh well, I was already wet, might as well make the best of it. My son had a good time trying to make mud piles in the garden.
Afterwards, when I asked him what he was thinking he said, "Mommy you were a plant and you were REALLY thirsty for water." Ok, maybe my son won't be a member of future farmers of America, but at least he has a sense of humor and imagination and at least he knows mud can be fun. If I keep it positive maybe I can come up with a creative way to help get him to weed.