gardening with kids

Humor for the Summer Heat

I bet you’re loving the weather this time of year, what with the snow melted, the sun shining and the seeds screaming to be sown.  In Florida, much of our gardening season is coming to an end.  My potatoes have been dug up, roasted, mashed and skillet-fried.  My sweet onions have been hauled out of the ground, slapped on the grill, sliced into salads… 

You get the idea.  So round about this time, my mind starts to wander…to crazy places, faraway places, places most people would fear!  Okay, just kidding.  But seriously, have you ever wondered:  if kids were vegetables/fruits, which one would yours be? 

Carrot – These boys and girls are bunches of fun and pure gold, inside and out.  At times they may appear feather-minded or flippant, but not to worry—they usually hop to their senses in short order!  For them, life is joyful.  Who can argue with that?

Corn – All sunshine and candy this child is as sweet and happy as they come, complete with flaxen hair and slender frame, though not all are blonde.  Ever heard of Indian corn?  Browns, reds, these kids come in all colors and flavors!  Occasionally blown off-balance by life, these little ones can prove susceptible to sudden surprise.  But who isn’t?   

Watermelon – Is it summertime, yet?  That’s the question spittin’ from these kids, cause they’re all about outdoor play, picnics and swim parties.  Don’t look for these rosy-cheeks anywhere near a computer game when the sun is shining but by golly Miss Molly when they’re finished—they move on quick, leaving a “scatter” of evidence behind. 

Onion – While these little ones spend more time in tears than many of their peers, despair not—they sweeten as they mature, especially when kept close to home.  Once fully-grown, these boys and girls realize how versatile they truly are and find themselves in high demand and welcome most everywhere.

Strawberry – Bright and cheerful, these spring babies are a real treat.  They love the sun, love to shine…they simply love life.  But caution:  prone to a sweet tooth these kids will wallow in crème and sugar if you let them, with a tendency to plump!  And while plump can be perfect, TOO plump is not. Encourage these sweeties to keep it fresh and minimize the sugary add-ons.

Cabbage – These cherubs are as quiet as they are cute.  No trouble, no talkback, they’re good-natured and easy to mix.  Invited to parties year-round, they blend easily with any crowd and in the rare event they turn sour, don’t fret.  Simply run a hand over their soft heads, hush them to sleep and they’ll be lulled back to good sense in no time!

Chili Pepper – These kids will keep you hopping, skipping AND jumping!  Firecrackers for sure, these kiddos are sharp-minded and rambunctious—a definite hand-full that adds zing to your life.  Many a day you may question your sanity, but never your luck.  While spicy and hard to handle, you wouldn’t trade them for the world.  Not for a second.

Pole Beans – Fresh outdoorsy types, these kids love to climb and see the world.  Tall and slim, they’re forever exploring yet easy to manage.  Need something?  Ask these sweet babies.  They’re quick to produce and don’t disappoint.

Pumpkin – As the name entails, these kids are cuter than pumpkins, round and merry and oh-so-ready for fall.  Apple pie and haystacks are what lure these kids (not to mention a great goblin costume).  But watch your back!  These mischievous critters are practical jokesters, known to spook a time or two.

Weeds – Wouldn’t be fair to overlook these little fellas.  Can’t because they’re everywhere!  Underfoot, out the door, around the corner!  And they’re quick, too.  Staying on top of these kids will take constant supervision and planning ahead.  They need freedom to roam and room to move and if you’re smart—you’ll allot them a space all their own.  No can do?  Ruh, roh.  These resourceful kids will make it happen.

 As part of the Summer Splash Blog Hop, I’m giving away a garden goody basket!  Giveaway includes custom seed packet holder, set of 10 seed saving packets for your harvest, pair of kids’ garden gloves and your choice of garden-inspired T-shirt — bloomin’ sprout or bloomin’ beauty, caption on the back reads: “A child (girl) will bloom in time; their (her) own sweet time!”

How do you win?  Simply leave a comment here and you’ll be entered to win.  Want to increase your odds?  Like my facebook page and follow me on twitter!  Three easy ways to win. 🙂  Now get hopping–you’ve got a ton more sites to visit.

Weeding Can be Fun!

Beats reading, writing and arithmetic, right?  Nah, I wouldn’t go THAT far, but the kids do seem to enjoy their garden time and work quite well together over the beds as they weed. 

These kids know that if they leave these weeds be, they’ll rob their veggie plants of nutrients and that’s just plain unacceptable.  I mean, these boys and girls know exactly where they planted their seeds and watch over them like hawks!  (Now if only they’d eat grasshoppers like good flying predators do, we’d be all set.) 

Just kidding, kids! 🙂  Plucking them from the leaves will do just fine.  And look at the work they’ve accomplished.  Why this bed was covered with tiny green weeds only moments ago.  But these guys and gals are quick and learned a new method of weeding. 

Basically you put your fingers into the soil and twist.  I call it the roto-rooter method (though I’m not sure exactly why) and it does wonders for unearthing the tiny weeds that prove problematic for tools.  Okay kids, twist and turn, twist and turn, twist and turn–1-2-3!

They do enjoy rhythm in the garden.  They also like helping teach one another the finer points in gardening.  Just look at this young man teaching his fellow students how to pinch tomato plants.  An expert himself now, he has their FULL attention.

And it’s working.  These tomatoes are growing into some real beauties.

But speaking of beauty, these black bean blossoms will give those tomatoes a run for their title as “Most Glorious in the Garden.”  Mother Nature has her gems!

Engaging Kids in the Garden

And by this I mean both verb and noun.  Kids are a hoot in the garden.  Not only do they come up with some of the most amazing theories about nature at work, but they delight in the simplest of discoveries (a joy for any parent to watch).

But how do you get kids INTO the garden?  In general, kids tend to avoid chores like homework.  Sure, they understand it’s part of the deal, but if they can shortcut the process somehow…

…then by all means, they’re shorting!  However, if the garden presents adventure and discovery, you won’t be able to keep them out.  Bugs, rare finds, lost coins, worms, butterflies, animal poop–having your own garden equates to big time excitement!  And then of course there’s harvest time.  What kid doesn’t like to eat yummy food?

Stop laughing.  I’m serious! Vegetables can be yummy for kids, so long as they’re “staged” in the proper fashion.  (Note to parents of daughters:  while I don’t literally mean fashion, you can use this angle to get your girls in the garden.  How?  My daughter plays with her Polly’s among the branches and trellis’ and has quite the time of it, creative little thing that she is!).   But truthfully, lure them with the promise of baking healthy french fries and potato chips together.  

Packing carrots with the greens intact makes for amazing bragging rights (wonderful cupcakes, too).  Even broccoli snapped from the stalk seems a whole lot more alluring to kids than the shrink-wrapped store-bought kind.  I mean, what lucky person had the right to break all those “trees” from the stalks?

Not your kids.  Trust me–they want their chance.  It’s fun to harvest vegetables!  Pulling carrots from their hiding places, swimming for buried treasure–er, potatoes.  It’s a blast!  And the sheer pride they derive from planting seeds, watching them grow… 

It’s truly a wonderful experience.  Have them grow their own herbs, too, and then dry them in oven.  They’re perfect for sprinkling on pizza, pasta–you name it!  Not to mention they make great gifts for friends and family, and dare I mention…teachers?  End of the school year is approaching fast, but don’t worry if your child doesn’t have their own garden yet–they can practice with fresh fruits and vegetables from the grocery store!  My kids and I recently went strawberry picking and ended up with flats of excess berries.  What did we do?

Made our own homemade preserves.  (It’s easier than you think.)  Check my recipe section for complete how-to instructions and don’t forget Mom!  With Mother’s Day on the horizon, your kids will enjoy giving her the gift of nature with satchels of lavender and rosemary, or painting a planter pot at the local paint and glaze shop. We have an awesome one in our area.  Check your local listings for one near you. 

While we’re talking rosemary, try using some to make rosemary lemonade!  Or how about making homemade aromatherapy oils?  Hmmm…  Moms love that kind of stuff.  I should know–I am one!

For those who “know how to sew,” how about creating a garden apron?  Worked to get my daughter excited about the garden…  And it’s too cute to pass.  For those rebel do-it-yourselfers, I’ve included the “apron-construction-by-the-seat-of-my-pants” patternI do love a challenge.

Now that we’re all dressed up, how about hosting a harvest party?  Better yet, invite your childs’ friends over for a potato swim or carrot dig!  They will surely be the hit of the neighborhood.  And there are some awfully cute garden-style invitations to choose from out there.   I couldn’t resist.

And when they finish with their first season, encourage sustainability with custom-designed seed saving packets. Instructions are right here under the Kid Buzz section of this website and they are way cool.

No matter which path you choose, gardening with kids is tons of fun and a true joy.  Plant seeds of love together, and watch your relationship grow.

Cooking with Kids

And I do mean cooking!  We were back in the kitchen this week, enjoying fresh potatoes, sweet onions and delectable rosemary–all from our garden.  In fact, the potatoes were harvested over the last several days, to the delight of all involved.  In fact, I’m not sure who was more excited, the lower elementary kids or the middle school students!

All learned how to swim for potatoes and agreed: it’s a lot like digging for buried treasure.  (Like I always say, having your own garden is way cool.)  It’s a dirty job, but definitely a fun one.

The younger crowd even found some the middle schoolers missed.  A feat that may not go unmentioned.  And what happens if we accidentally leave some in the ground?

Mother Nature will take care of them (hopefully reward us with an unexpected harvest come fall!).  That would be awesome, because if I’ve learned one thing from this school garden experience, it’s that we didn’t plant near enough to satisfy these kids.  From carrots to scallions, broccoli to strawberries, these kids were always ready for more.  A good thing, in my book!

With our baskets full and our bellies empty, we cooked up trays for sampling.  Throughout the afternoon, the kids floated on air, much like the scent of roasting vegetables and rosemary.

Okay, that’s not exactly true.  They were wiggling, giggling, holding their nose, pushing for a view–just as you’d expect when presented with the opportunity to learn how to prepare their very own vegetables!  It is exciting.  Nothing better than eating what you grew.

So as the adult in charge, I bumped up my tolerance level to “extremely patient” and off we went.  I showed them how to clean their potatoes, chop them into pieces, coat them with olive oil, tossing in some sweet onions and fresh garden rosemary.  Mmmmm….  We roasted them and devoured them, all in the space of one fun-filled hour in school.

Does it get any better?

Spring Bounty for the Kids

After all their hard work, the kids are sliding down the home stretch.  First they pulled their sweet onions and next week?

Potato mania!  The kids can’t wait to roast them with their leftover sweet onions and rosemary.  Mmmmm….  Until then, they had to maintain.  Let the weeding begin! 

Promising them a bit of the fluffiest-carrot-cake-ever ( the remainder of Monday’s post) proved an excellent motivator.  Totally unfair of me, I know–but totally effective!  Those weeds didn’t stand a chance against these guys!

While weeding, we noticed our black beans are forming pods.  When they darken to purple, that’s our sign to harvest.

We trained our cucumbers to climb the fence, as we expect a full wall of bounty come May.

And of course our tomatoes are gorgeous.  Something about the dirt on this school ground puts my home garden to shame.  Would you look at these?

Mine at home are not even half the size (and I loaned the kids some of MY tomato sprouts!).  Go figure.  At that, I’ll leave you with their black eye peas.

They too are flourishing.  Unfortunately, I don’t know too many recipes for fresh black eye peas which means I’ll have to rely on tradition.  Now if only I can find that ham hock I bought for New Year’s…

Transplanting Beans

Talk about excitement–this week the students transplanted their bean sprouts into the garden–woo-hoo!  Pull those seed journals out and get scribbling because we have things to report!   Now, before we go on, let’s acknowledge the (sad) fact that not all seeds germinate.  As in nature, some make it and some don’t.  Glancing over the seed trays, it was apparent several of ours didn’t sprout.  But why?

It’s simple really.  Beans are like Goldilocks.  They like their soil not too wet, not too dry… actually. they like it just right.   And as their trusty gardeners, it’s our responsibility to maintain proper germination conditions.  As their supervisor, it was an issue I wanted to explore. 

“If yours didn’t sprout, I want you to dig for your bean.”

The burrowing began.  “Hey–who stole my bean!”

Peering over his shoulder, he wasn’t telling tales.  There was definitely no bean in the soil.   “Now, let’s not be too quick to judgment, kids.  There could be another reason your bean is missing.”  Met with suspicious scowls, I continued, “Remember, your beans are heavier than the light fluffy dirt.  If you flood your seed tray with water, the seeds can float to the soil’s surface.”

“Hey,” another perked to attention.  “Mine’s mushy.”

“Why do you think that happened?”

The pointed finger flew through the air.  “She watered my sprout too much!”

“Oh she did, did she?”  You see, much like adults, it never tends to be our fault.  It was someone else.  I’m sure of it. 

Another bean came up dry.  Actually split into two pieces.  He frowned.  “Mine didn’t get enough water.”

“You see, just like in nature, if there’s not enough rain or too much sun, the seeds won’t grow will they?”  Heads swung from side to side.  Not one to commiserate, I exclaimed, “How about we plant the ones we have!”

The kids jumped to attention.  “Okay!”  Well that was easy.   Guiding them to the correct row, the kids weeded the bed and tilled the soil. 

Plants do prefer soft beds.  Next, we dug holes twice the size of our sprout’s root ball.

Gently–and I do mean to emphasize gently–we removed the sprouts from their containers and placed them into the awaiting holes.  

“Okay, now, same as a castle, let’s build a moat around our sprouts.  This is called a well and it will collect the water, directing it straight to the sprout’s roots.”

Oh, ho–do these kids know about building moats!  They went straight to work and formed the most beautiful wells you’d ever want to see.  (It’s all about the lingo.  Speak in kid terms and you can communicate anything!)

Stepping back, surveying our handiwork, we had to admit, these transplants looked great.  We’re going to have ourselves one lush row of limas to be sure.  But better than the ample harvest on our horizon was the sheer cooperation these kids demonstrated.  Transplanting bean sprouts can be tricky business.  Many of the kids needed help transferring their delicate sprouts from tray to dirt and you know who helped them?

Their fellow students.  To watch as one child took charge and assisted the other place his hard-earned sprout into the ground warmed this mother’s heart.  Weeks of watering and tending their trays really made an impact on these kids–to the point they felt a vested interest in the outcome of their transplant.  Which doesn’t bode well for our co-op concept.  (Kids are funny that way —  they’ll remember exactly where their sprout is and make sure everyone knows it’s theirs.) 

But that’s okay.  It all works out in the end.  One thing I’ve personally discovered is that if you want to get a child to eat vegetables, have them grow them themselves.  I’ve never seen so much plucking of fresh veggies and popping them in their mouths as I have in this garden!

But who can blame them?  They are gorgeous, aren’t they?  Definitely a feat to be proud.  We’ll worry about doling out beans later.  For now, we simply enjoy.

Weed, Till, Mulch and Plant — the kids were busy!

And having a great time.  Really.  Even weeding can be fun with the right attitude!

The middle school students joined us this week and wielded hoes like professionals, tilling and weeding, managing near amelioration.    “Boys, boys–over here.  We don’t need a cleared five foot perimeter!”  Left unsupervised, the whole field may have been cultivated, had they their way.  Though to their credit, the border did look nice.

Next came the hay.  Pulling and tossing and separating…  “Can I go back to class?  I’m allergic to hay.”  

That might have been a good thing to know before you mulched half the garden with it.  “Sure, but are you okay?” 

“Yes, I just get itchy.”

I smiled.  “Me, too.”

Next, the elementary kids made note of their broccoli.   It’s bolting.  With our warmer weather of late, the broccoli went straight to flower.  “Can we eat them?”

Of course they’d ask that question.  Why wasn’t I prepared?   With a shrug, I replied, “Well, they are edible…”  

Hands dashed out, blanketing the plant with greedy plucks.   “Mmmm!  They’re good!”   Another student wasn’t as certain and returned a frown.  “Bitter.”

Lower elementary was in charge of planting carrot seeds.  If you’ve ever seen a carrot seed, you know this would amount to an exciting project.  The seeds are quite tiny, easily dropped, spread to the walkway, stuck to the skin… 

Luckily their garden coordinator was close at hand for help.  “How about you carve the channels into the soil and I’ll demonstrate how to “roll” the seeds out over the dirt forming a fine line.”

Worked for them!  We then sprinkled some bone meal over the area, followed by a thin layer of dirt.  Bone meal offers a punch of phosphorous which we learned helps grow big roots and big fruits.  “Hey, that rhymes!” 

I winked.  “Yes it does.   Makes for a great way to remember, don’t you think?’   Night, night carrots.  Sleep tight in your soft comfy bed.

We rounded out the week with our kindergarteners.  Taking their turn at weeding–an interesting sight to see, what with shovels dipping, dirt flinging, rakes scraping, boys wandering, girls squealing;  it was a great time had by all!

But the best moment came when one of the boys discovered an earthworm as he transplanted his strawberry plant.  Oh, the glorious hoots and howls and shrieks, “Let me see!”   “Let me see!”   “Don’t hurt it!”  “He’s stabbing it!”

WHAT?  “No, no, let him go!  We need him in the garden.  Remember, plants love worm poop.”

Ewe…. 

At least it stopped them in their tracks.  Gently prying the worm from their tight-fisted grip, I set him back in the dirt, quickly covering him with soil.  Whew!  That was a close one.   “See, he’s happy and so is your strawberry plant.  Look, there’s one growing now!”

Distraction is key, as every keen adult knows, to moving the process along.  Eager stares scoured the area for sight the coveted strawberry.  I pointed to a white flower.

“That’s not a strawberry,” one child said while another noted, “but it is pretty.”

“Look closer.  See?   In the center is the beginning of a strawberry.”

Well, that impressed them.  As it should.  Next on the list was lavender.  Bodies leaped from the ground.  Passing around the small plant, the kids were amazed by its sweet rich scent.  “Smells good, doesn’t it?”

Heads nodded agreement all around.   “Okay, we’ll plant it right here, and watch as it grows pretty purple flowers.”

With one plant, our plant-to-child ratio wasn’t appealing so we promptly moved on to our final task.  Harvest.

Oh, the splendor of pulling your very own carrots from the ground! 

Just make sure each child has one to pull, or the whines of injustice will drive you clear from your state of euphoria.  

Thankfully, we had enough to go around and sent each child home with a petite bunch of veritable gold treasure.  “I’ll take that, thank you!”

Be sure to wash them before you eat them!  When you grow your own, this little tidbit of advice should be taken to heart, else you end up with a mouth full of dirt (and who knows what else!)

p.s.  Our beans are sprouting.  Aren’t they fabulous? 

A few of the kids expressed concerned.  “What will happen if we don’t get them into the ground soon?” 

“Will they grow out of their tray?”

You have to appreciate the logic of the young mind.  They’re always thinking, always pondering the “what ifs” of life.   Faced with their steep concern, it was my job to reassure them.  “No, they won’t grow out of their tray.”  Not exactly, anyway.  “But we do want to get them into the garden soon.  Maybe next week?”

Cheers all around!

Worm Poop a.k.a Worm Castings

The art of vermiculture.  Yes, you heard it here first.  We have begun worm composting! 

Because we can’t wait until spring to get into garden mode, we’ve decided to get a jump-start — and what better way than with worms?  Okay, my daughter would have something to say about this, but my son?  He’s all for it!  I mean, what boy doesn’t like worms?  In fact, he treated me to a dissertation on the subject as we drove home from school.  He and his young friends, it turns out, are well-versed in the subject.  Found a mound of the wrigglys beneath an old tree on the playground.

Well, hold the cabbage!  Did I hear you say you have worms at school?   Then why aren’t they in the garden?  These babies make the golden goose look like an ugly duck.  *QUACK*   We need worms and lots of them!  Actually, we need their poop.

Loaded with nitrogen, worm poop (worm castings for you scientific types) is an excellent organic fertilizer.  And I should know.   The students at school threw handfuls of it in their garden when we first planted and I’m not ashamed to admit, their tomatoes and peppers completely outshone mine at home.  Kids.   Go figure.   Next time I won’t be so quick to advise caution and restraint in the “worm poop throw” event.

So lesson learned (and what better place than among fellow students), I’ve decided an endeavor in the worm poop business would be a good idea.  My garden needs all the help it can get frankly, and I’m open to suggestion.  After a few clicks online, I found out how to make my own worm poop lodge.  Rest comfy, my sweets, and eat to your heart’s content.  The bathroom’s down the hall to the left.  Don’t worry about the mess.  I’ll get it.  Wink, wink.  (They have no idea what I’m up to, I’m sure of it!)

We bought the bin; your standard 78 qt. plastic variety.  With the help of my husband, we drilled holes across the top, sides and bottom (about 1/16″ to 1/8″ should do — any bigger and your worms may find themselves an escape route!). 

Then filled it with shredded newspaper, about 2/3 full.  Next, we moistened the paper.  Not too much.  Apparently worms are finicky and like it damp, but not too damp.  Think damp sponge.  Roll of the eyes here.   They remind me why I don’t have a cat, though I will indulge them.  After all, I do have ulterior motives.

Fortunate enough to secure our worms (must be red worms or Eisenia foetida) from a local angler shop, run by an experienced angler, I was informed that worms like peanut hulls and eggshells, coffee grinds and banana peels.  Wonderful!  I just happen to have some old peanuts leftover from last summer.  Eggshells? 

Not on your life.  Those are going to my tomatoes this spring.  Coffee grinds and bananas are all theirs.   Generous to a fault, aren’t I?

And since we want them to make healthy poop, we threw in a few old lettuce stalks from our fall garden.  Adds to the “nitrogen” factor.  (We’re always thinking!)

Then the worms.  Rather than purchase the pound I originally intended, our new angler friend suggested I go with these two smaller containers.  Seems worms multiply at alarming rates — not surprising when he explained that each worm comes equipped with both male and female attributes.  Easy mixing

He was also kind enough to show us the adult worm’s egg sack.  Clearly identifiable on the upper body, this sack is supposed to “migrate” down toward the tail (do worms have tails?) and then off the body where the eggs “hatch.”   He said we can expect as many as a 100 babies per adult!  For those of you interested in full details, check out this link.

Quickly calculating the numbers in my head, I nodded.  “You’re right.  We’ll go with the two small tubs.” 

My son did the honors.  He is the resident expert on worms and all things fishing so it seemed a natural fit when gardens and fishing cross, right?  Gently, he sprinkled them out into their new home.    Aw…look at those little pumpkins.   Aren’t they adorable?

In worm terms they’re cute.  Amazingly beautiful, actually, when you consider their production capacity!  And we are interested in production.

Can’t wait.  In fact, we’ve checked on them three times already.  Impatient bunch.  A good thing we did, because we discovered a few had crawled up near the lid.  On their way out?

Hope not.  And I hope the holes don’t prove too big.  Eagerly opening our bin to find no worms?  That’ll be a sad day.  Shudder the thought.

Quality Time in the Garden

“Mom, I brought snacks.”

Lifting my head from my tilling work of the potato row, I smiled at my son.  “Really?  What’d you bring?”

“Pistachios.  Do you like pistachios?”

“Sure do.”

Passing me, he promptly dropped to the ground and wrestled to open the canister (our fall purchase from his sister the Girl Scout).  “Can I have some of your water?” he asked.

“By all means.  We can share.  Your pistachios for my water.”

“Um-hm.” 

Returning to my task of tilling dirt for the addition of our compost–the compost he was supposed to be shoveling into the row but had since abandoned, I noted, “So I gather you’re on break?”

“No, I’m not on break.”

This gave me pause.  “No?”

“No, I’m just eating pistachios.”

“But you’re not working.  That’s what we call it when you stop to eat.  It’s called a break.”

Adamantly, he shook his head to the contrary. 

“Do you intend to shovel and pop nut shells at the same time then?”

“No.  I’m just eating them.”  He looked up.  “Want some?”

Giving in to the futility of the conversation block, I replied, “Sure.”

He reached up and plopped an already shelled nut into my mouth.  That is good.  Straightening, my lower back screaming tight, I decided break or no break, this was as good a time as any to sit down and eat nuts.  I lowered myself down to the ground next to him and stuck my hand out. 

He deposited another already shelled nut into my hand.  “Here ya go,” he said — service with a smile.

“Thanks.”   Running through half the can, we talked about nothing in particular, content with our simple enjoyment of tossing shells over the potato row (they are biodegradable after all, and it was fun to aim for the variety of holes in the dirt).  

“He throws, he hits–scores!”  My son cheers.  “And the crowd goes wild!”

I’ve heard this chant before, though I can’t place my finger on exactly where, and delight in his gardening-turned-sports-drama.   No TV, no DS, no itouch…just us, hanging out in the garden on break (or whatever he thinks we’re doing). 

It was nice.  Easy, simple.  Just plain old-fashioned nice.  Looking at him, the shells piling up, I asked, “Can I have a kiss?”

Without hesitation, he leaned over and planted one smack dab on my lips.  I smiled.  “Thanks.”

I don’t receive too many of those anymore, not with him growing up so fast, his self-conscious awareness as his buddies look on… 

And I miss them.  I miss him.  No longer as exciting as an afternoon on the playground with his friends, a play over with his neighbors, an afternoon of football and chips with his dad, I take what I can get.  I’m sensible.  I accept the changes. 

Later, when the game ends and he snuggles up close to me on the sofa, I remind him one day he’ll whisk me across the dance floor when he’s taller than me–

–to which he responds with a shy yet delighted roll of his eyes.   “Mom…”

I grinned and gave him a squeeze.  “Sorry.”  But that’s the way we moms roll.