So what does a tomato plant have to do with everyday parenting?  Well, for me quite a bit.
My littlest one LOVES cherry tomatoes, he’ll pretty much eat them everyday. At the beginning of summer, when I was shopping at Costco, we browsed their outdoor plant selection.  I bought a few hanging baskets for the house and our little guy spotted  the cherry tomato plants.  He asked and begged to have this plant.  You have to understand, I am not a gardener, I barely keep my hanging baskets alive.  I have house plants that I’m celebrating about because they have been doing well and I have had them for 3 months! Knowing how much he loves cherry tomatoes, how could I not.  Homebound that little plant went.
At home and throughout the summer, sometimes, it would get looked after really well.  We would water it and fertilize it.  Other times it would not get much looking after at all, we were busy or I would forget about it.  It could get pretty wilty and dry looking, at times I thought it really wasn’t going to make it. We would save it and look after it again and it all looked fine.  It even ended up yielding some tomatoes!  My little guy was so excited that it had these bright, beautiful cherry tomatoes on it that he was able to pick.
Here is the kicker, yes it had lots of tomatoes and they looked beautiful, but they tasted awful.  They were bitter and truly were not edible.  Thankfully he wasn’t too upset, he realized why they weren’t that great.   He said, “Mom maybe we can try with another plant next year and we’ll look after it better.”  Yes good idea, we’ll try again and yes we will look after it.  It was a good lesson for us, but I probably learned the most.  This is where the parenting part comes in.
Our children have invisible disabilities.  Our family was made through adoption and these little people had a hard start to life.  In the beginning before they came home to their foster parents and before they came home to us, their care was less than ideal.  As they were growing and developing, even in utero, they were not getting what they needed.  They were being nourished the wrong way, the care the birth mom was needing was not happening.  One of our children came home as an older child and suffered through neglect and the lack of basic care.  Children are not exactly like tomatoes, but on the outside you really wouldn’t know what they are dealing with on the inside.  This hard start to life has an impact on them.
I saw the result of us not giving the tomato plant what it needed, which really put an impact on how I viewed what our children have gone through.  People have a bit more layers than a tomato, but it really made me realize that the look of something can be so deceiving.
I am a big advocate and educator for our children, but even I, myself lose sight of what is lying underneath.  When everything seems fine and looks fine, it’s hard to expect different.  The issues that these guys face are under the surface, at a brain based level and difficult to see.
My apologies to the tomato plant for being a challenged gardner, but thank you so much for giving me another opportunity to learn.