Like most kids, Jude loves dirt. And bugs. Since the beginning of Spring, he has been asking to plant seeds, to water plants, to pick flowers. The best I could do for him here at home was to help him transfer some basil plants from their little starter boxes to our window boxes. I’ve got a brown, brown thumb. They were dead within days.
Luckily, there’s church a few blocks from our home that, in conjunction with an adjoining intentional community, offered a Gardening Club for neighborhood kiddos this Spring and Summer. The Spring session wasn’t on my radar, but I was able to sign Jude up for the Summer session, which started about six weeks ago and ends tomorrow.
Jude’s group has met twice a week for two hours each day, since the Summer session started. Besides t-ball (which, for all intents and purposes, was pretty much a failure), this was Jude’s first drop-off class. Come to think of it, it was really his first class ever. And honestly, I was worried. I was nervous about leaving Jude with people he didn’t really know. I was nervous thinking about what would be expected of him and whether or not he’d be able to conform. Probably sensing my anxiety, for the first two and a half weeks, Jude wanted me to stay nearby while he participated in the class. I happily complied. Mostly, at least. Do you remember what the weather was like in Chicago about six weeks ago? No? Oh, let me remind you: It was unbearably hot. Jude, Ramona, and I barely left our air-conditioned house, save for this one class, twice a week. But, despite the extreme heat and the thick air and the absence of anything resembling a breeze, I stayed close. I wore Ramona and hid in the slivers of shade the columns on the church porch provided; I slowly fed Ramona one Cheerio at a time as she meandered, barefoot, around the un-air conditioned, fan-less, sweltering children’s area of the church; I waited, and I sweated. And then, one Wednesday, Ramona spiked a fever right after Jude started class, and I had to take her home. Upon my return, I told Jude what had happened-that Ramona had gotten sick and that I had to get her out of the heat, so I took her home. He looked at me and said, “No, Mama, you were there. I saw you by the tree.” “Well, yes, Monkey, I came back to pick you up, but I was at home while you were digging in the garden. And listen, from now on, I’m going to need to just drop you off and then pick you up like I did today; it’s too hot for Ramona and me,” I replied. I braced myself for a meltdown, and then, “Oh. Ok.” came from my boy’s mouth. And thus, the big ol’ cloud of anxiety and nervousness dissipated.
Josh and I figured that Jude would enjoy this club, but we underestimated just how much joy he would derive from it. Every day, Jude asks if it’s Gardening Club day, and if not, how many sleeps until it is? I’m reminded, daily, that “Gardening Club is [Jude’s] favorite” and that “[he] love[s] it.” Jude is so excited about this class that, before bed last night, he drew a picture for the adults who run it and then commissioned Josh to deliver it to the house where they live. Right then. So, Josh did. And today when we ran into one of the adult leaders, she made sure to take the time and tell him that they had received the picture and liked it very much.
Tomorrow, at 3pm, Jude’s Gardening Club is going to be holding a (free) Farmers Market and Lemonade Stand (I think) to close out the Summer session. If you’re in the neighborhood and want to support a great group of kids and their adult leaders, you should swing by.