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When are they ready?

June 3, 2010

Despite our assumptions (based on feedback from experienced Florida home gardeners!) that our first growing season would be wrapping up and our garden starting to “fry” any minute now, it’s still going strong! We’re producing tomatoes and cherry tomatoes with regularity and even the broccoli is continuing to make strides. We’re still too nervous to pull up any more carrots, but maybe this weekend? I think I want to make a roast, and that sounds carroty, right?

While watering last night we got into a debate about the tomatoes.

When exactly does a tomato become a tomato?

With some it’s pretty easy to tell. You come out one day and all of a sudden there’s a 3 inch tomato there that you would swear on your favorite shoes simply didn’t exist the day before. And before you know it, it’s red and almost ready to go:

Then there are those that you catch in their infancy, or earlier. For example (look closely to the left of the obvious one):

Ok so the one on the right, the obvious one I’m ready to call a baby tomato. The one on the left, we are calling a late term tomato bud. But what about the middle one? I couldn’t get a picture of it, it’s so teensy tiny, but I swear to you it’s in there protected by those tiny leaves until it grows big and strong enough to hold on to the plant amidst raindrops and wind gusts.

But is it a tomato yet? When will I know? How exactly can you tell when that happens?

I’m sure you guys are getting tired of all the comparisons of my daughter to vegetables but I can’t help it. Being out there makes me think of her little mysterious, miraculous life almost every time.

When will we know that she’s ready to stand in the world and feel the rain on her face without the umbrella we provide? Will she really be ready when she thinks she’s ready? Will we keep trying to hold the umbrella long after she’s outgrown the need for it because we still need it? We don’t want to be helicopter parents, raising kids who don’t know how to balance a checkbook by the time they leave for college or whatever, but we don’t want to push her to grow up and away from us too fast either. But how will we know when the moment has come?

Which moment am I talking about? I have no idea. Any moment, I guess. I strongly value independence and want to teach it to my daughter, but I also want us to be and remain her safe place to fall for as long as possible in this life. I don’t really know how to make sure we create that kind of upbringing for her. I will freely admit that I have yet to figure it out from the daughter side, let alone the mother side. But I’m still trying, on both fronts. She makes me see things differently.

What do you think? How do you know when they’re ready… for anything? When do you consider your babies to be tomatoes?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 3, 2010 7:30 am

    I thought fosho you’d compare that tiny tomato bud to a fetus still protected by mother’s womb. As for the independent tomato… I fully believe I will be clutching my baby tight long after he’s ready to be set free, something I see in myself and intend to work on. Especially now that he’s trying to crawl.

  2. June 3, 2010 10:23 am

    I think my little guy is a full blow zucchini already.

    But honestly? I have no idea when he’s ready for things. We try to follow his lead – but when are we letting him push us around as opposed to him just not being ready for something? When are we letting him get too far ahead of himself? When is it ok to let him fall down and learn to get back up and when do we need to walk him through it?

    I don’t have any answers and the parenting books are not all that helpful. Because, as you know, every tomato is different.

  3. June 3, 2010 12:15 pm

    I love the analogies you draw from your garden to you kid. And this is a parenting thing I think about ALL the time. I already fell like sometimes I let her fall too often when she’s trying to crawl, where her father is following her around and not letting her try anything on her own. I don’t want her to be hurt, ever. But she’s going to be. And she needs to learn to get up when she falls. UGH. This is hard.

  4. June 3, 2010 1:46 pm

    I am so dreading the day I pull them from the vine. As my son approaches 8, I begin to fully understand how limited my time is. If I reflect on it too long, it breaks my heart.

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