When my children were little, we had a magical, organic vegetable garden. We had tomatoes until December, green beans that made Jack-in-the-bean-stalk, look like any Tom-Dick-or-Harry-kind-of-ordinary-guy, and spinach that made Popeye, green with envy. Our garden was the talk of the neighborhood.
Neighbor to the right asked Neighbor to the left, "How does that American produce such a beautiful vegetable garden?"
Neighbor to the left said, "I heard she doesn't use pesticides."
Neighbor across the street threw in, "I heard she uses fresh cow pies?"
Mr. Porte my elderly neighbor, was my potager (vegetable garden) mentor, and he swelled with pride at his student. I loved that our organic garden gave him an extra sparkle in his eye!
Mr. Porte told me to put a piece of copper wire in the base of my tomato plants, to water only three times a week, and to pick the snails off. Bugs give me the creeps.
Luckily, I had little helpers...I told Chelsea (who at the time was 6) and Sacha (4) to pick off the snails and put them in a bucket.
Soon it dawned on Sacha that this was not a happy little game, that these snails were doomed. That his Mother had failed him. With tears in his lollipop eyes he asked me, "Mommy, what are you gonna do with these escargots (snails.)"
There comes a point in every child's life that they realize that their Mothers are not perfect....unfortunately for me, it happened when Sacha was four.
I didn't know what to say. I wanted to tell a tale, to make up a story, I wanted to say something to reassure him. In my long silence, with a look of extreme doubt and all the while biting my lip, he started to cry. "YOU are gonna KILL 'em!"
I thought to myself, "Great, I have psychologically damaged my child. He is going to have nightmares... he is going to hate me forever, what can I say, what can I do? Why didn't I use bug spray?" I was in a drama in my head.
Just then, to the rescue, Chelsea stood up. She wiped her brow, looked at me like I was the child, shook her head and said, "Sacha, either they eat or we eat?!"
Sacha looked at her, bent don't, and continued picking the snails off the tomato plants.
Children can handle truth better than we think.