by Lisa Ripperton
January 31, 2019
Sometimes we plant seeds intentionally andsometimes we do so by happenstance.
My second son, Daniel, was born in mid-July, a full three months before his October due date. When he came home in late September after a long sojourn in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at UNC Hospitals, we were in a quandary about what to do with him. There was little point in looking at the book of milestones of what babies do when, as each premature baby progresses at his own rate, especially those born as early as Daniel. So we spoke to him, sang to him, and rocked him, providing a soothing environment that he probably appreciated after the constant bombardment of noise in the NICU. But his movements at the time were limited to infrequently reaching out with his hands and striking the chimes hanging in front of him. What to do to awaken him to life?
An answer to that question came one afternoon while I was busy with dinner preparations. Upon coming home from work, my husband scooped up Daniel out of his crib and laid him down gently on his back on the floor of his room. Then he sat down beside him on the white braided cotton rug, tucked a pillow under his head, picked a book off the shelf, and started reading one poem after another aloud from its pages. Thus began a tradition that lasted for many months, with Daniel’s ever-growing delight obvious to us all.
A year later when my youngest child, Rebecca, arrived on the scene, the before-dinner reading tradition carried on with one child nestled up on either side of their father. They continued to read from the book that started it all, Poems to Read to the Very Young, and added the poetry of Edward Lear, A. A. Milne, Eugene Field, and Maurice Sendak, as well. Is it any wonder that they both grew up to be so fond of poetry, and even noted poets themselves?
Whether or not their father intentionally planted the poetry seed, I will never know because he passed unexpectedly around the time of their 8th and 9th birthdays before I ever thought to pose the question to him. I can say, however, that it would never have occurred to me to introduce poetry to children so young. If I had it to do all over again, I would be much more intentional about planting seeds. And what other seeds would I plant? More about that in upcoming posts!
What seeds are you trying to plant in your children’s lives? Let us know by leaving a comment below!
Purchase Books at Amazon
Poems to Read to the Very Young illustrated by Eloise Wilkins
Nutshell Libraryby Maurice Sendak
The Shut-Eye Trainby Eugene Field
Edward Lear’s Nonsense Book illustrated by Tony Palazzo
What a lovely seed to plant indeed! When I had my son I knew I had to plant the seed of loving to read early. So many people told me how reading came more naturally to girls but I didn’t believe it. I read to him every day, almost every hour it seemed! Now I have a nine year old who can’t wait to get new books.
Raven, Thank you for sharing your experience! A love of reading is the best seed of all to plant! I agree wholeheartedly that boys will take to reading just as girls do, provided that you offer well chosen books, and make allowances in the read aloud stage for their extra wiggliness and tendency to fall asleep (even during exciting parts of the story) after a busy day. Can you believe that there were some chapters in My Father’s Dragon that I had to read three times to my 7 yo son before we made it all the way to the end?
Lisa, Your words about planting seeds reminded of James Allen’s book, As a Man Thinketh (1903) – the following snippet in particular:
EFFECT OF THOUGHT ON CIRCUMSTANCES
MAN’S mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed-seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind.
Just as a gardener cultivates his plot, keeping it free from weeds, and growing the flowers and fruits which he requires, so may a man tend the garden of his mind, weeding out all the wrong, useless, and impure thoughts, and cultivating toward perfection the flowers and fruits of right, useful, and pure thoughts. By pursuing this process, a man sooner or later discovers that he is the master-gardener of his soul, the director of his life. He also reveals, within himself, the laws of thought, and understands, with ever-increasing accuracy, how the thought-forces and mind elements operate in the shaping of his character, circumstances, and destiny.
Mind is the Master power that moulds and makes,
And Man is Mind, and evermore he takes
The tool of Thought, and, shaping what he wills,
Brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills:—
He thinks in secret, and it comes to pass:
Environment is but his looking-glass.
Entire book here on Project Gutenberg:
Vivien, Thank you so much for sharing this thought-provoking excerpt! All the more reason, then, for us to be intentional about planting seeds and doing so in abundance!