“Hunter, what did Mommy ask you?” If only I had money for each time I asked this question, you know how that story would end – I would be rich! But I didn’t, instead I had my very adorable, doe eyed, five year old son staring up at me with a look on his face that said: “Whatever it is that you asked me, can you please think that I am cute enough to not do it and that just be ok?”
“Hunter, Mommy asked you not to go on the grass”, I said trying hard to be pleasant. He had arranged his train tracks and trains in a now re-dug up area of our yard. Basically, imagine that a dirt and mudslide had buried Thomas and friends while they were trying to be “very useful engines.” Sounds creative huh? Sure, just not in our yard that we had spent so many countless hours the weeks prior, tilling and sowing only to barely see skinny little blades of grass and patches coming up.

“Remember we planted seeds and we want the grass to grow?” I explained as I helped him gather the trains up. “Grass? Where’s the grass? I don’t see it.” He replied confused. “It’s right here.” I said almost defensively and bent down to the ground to give him a microscopic view. “You need to sit and not play for a couple minutes please.” I said to him while I was still on his level. “OK Mommy.” He said sadly with tears, because anyone who knows Hunter also knows that not being able to play with his trains was basically kryptonite. He got up when his time out was over and said, “I have an idea.” “Oh yeah, what’s your idea?” I asked. “Let’s put the trains on the sidewalk.” He replied. “Great idea.” I responded proudly.

That conversation alone had shown me just how much Hunter had grown as a child and how with the right cultivation he would continue to grow and flourish into a young man one day. I started thinking about the grass that we planted and how even though Hunter couldn’t see it, it was there. I also thought about what it took to grow and cultivate that grass, and anything for that matter – including my children. All living things ranging from your roses to your relationships need basic essentials to root, sprout, grow and thrive. There is no such thing as a healthy garden or relationship that didn’t require any work. Here are 5 essentials needed to grow anything:

1. A Foundation. Before we spread the grass seed in the yard there was a need to till the land and make sure that the seeds would not go onto hard or weeded ground. We prepared the “foundation.” The same is for our children. Your family is their foundation. It is our responsibility to make sure that as we continue to help our children to grow, that they are rooted in good soil and a sturdy foundation. This includes family morals and beliefs, cultures and traditions, as well as security and unity. The seeds and our children need to know that they belong where they are planted and feel comfortable enough to flourish.

2. A willingness to work hard. When we decided to grow our winter grass it was an easy decision, a decision we made with excitement actually. But after tilling the land and the back aches that went along with it, it was a different story. And then two weeks later no grass was growing and we had to do it all over again. That on the other hand was not exciting at all. There were times when I really felt like giving up and settling in on the thought that grass just won’t grow in this yard. But then it came. It started in one small little patch in the middle of the yard and spread from there. We had grass! I didn’t give up on my grass, so why would I give up on my children? They didn’t talk when other kids talked but we just kept at it. They don’t always listen, but I try to keep patience. They don’t understand everything I try to teach them, but I keep teaching. I rest assured that with a little hard work, just as the grass, they will grow just fine.

3. Water and food consistently. Consistency is the real key to breakthrough. By watering the yard two times a day and providing it the nutrients and fertilizer that it needs, not only will my grass grow, it will grow quickly, and lush. Our children need food and water the same, and not just in the form of groceries. You consistently give your kids the nutrients they need to grow when you build them up, and positively encourage them throughout their lives. Just as you would spend those extra moments watering your garden two times a day, find a time to give your children on-purpose encouragement two times daily. You will see the difference it will make.

4. A watchful eye. We soon discovered that one of the main reasons why our grass didn’t grow the first time was because of the birds and other intruders. I even remember as we were planting the seeds my 4 year old daughter Storie distinctly said, “Here birds. The birds eat.” I replied, “I hope not.” Intruders come in all shapes, sizes, and forms. With a close watch, you will be able to identify the intruders in your child’s life no matter how subtle they are. These may not always be people per say, intrusions are simply things that distract or stop growth.

5. Faith. As I stated before, Hunter didn’t see the grass, but it was there. I knew it was there because I planted the seeds. I didn’t know when the grass would grow exactly, but I knew it was coming. Have faith that the seeds that you sow in your children’s lives will flourish and grow. You do not plant in vain. Even when you can’t see the harvest, just wait for it. It will come.
Along with these five essential things, also remember that our gardens need the same thing that our children need: LOVE

©2008 Toya Jervay

Author's Bio: 

Toya Jervay is a Certified Holistic Life and Team Building Coach, Author, founder of Confetti and Coffee Coaching, LLC, and Interactive Speaker/Presenter. A radiant spirit who has dedicated most of her life to motivating and inspiring others to rediscover the amazing, creative, and wonder-filled person inside themselves. She has facilitated team building, conflict resolution and art workshops throughout the US and abroad. Before moving to Los Angeles, her life was spent living, working, talking and listening to people of all walks in Atlanta, Ga., Italy, and Japan.