Friday, April 25, 2008

Of Seedlings and Young Men

My four-year-old son and I have a project today. We will be transplanting seedlings from the mini-plastic greenhouse we used to start the seeds to individual Styrofoam cups. This is a great project to do with my son, as he learns about the tender care and discipline needed to help a seed make the transition to seedling to mature, fruit-bearing plant. The process requires the right amount of nutrients, sunlight, and moisture. And it requires the loving hands of a gardener to oversee the process.

At the beginning, the seeds are cared for in a very controlled environment. This ensures that they get everything they need. As the seeds germinate and grow into young seedlings, they need extra room to grow. This is why we transplant them into individual cups. Eventually, they will be planted outside in the garden, where they will face the harsh reality of temperature changes, lack of moisture, insects, and dozens of others things that threaten their existence. In many cases, the quality of care received by the young seedlings determines their ability to survive in the garden.

It’s really not so different from raising children. We bring them up in a loving, caring environment. We provide everything they need in the early years. Food. Shelter. Clothing. Love. Instruction. Discipline. The older they get, the greater their ability to do things for themselves. To make decisions for themselves. We give them more space to grow.

At some point, they are ready to be on their own. We trust that the care and instruction they receive when they are young will help them thrive in the harsh reality of a fallen world. To be mature, fruitful adults.

This morning, our older son left to go on his senior trip. This is one of those events that signals the beginning of the end. This morning he left for a week. In a few months, he will be leaving for West Point. Although he will come home for breaks, things will not be the same. He is leaving our home. Our care. Our discipline.

We will soon discover if our parenting was successful. Will our son become a mature, fruit-bearing adult? How will he handle adversity? How we he handle success? Did we provide a good example for him to follow?

This summer, we will watch in anticipation as our seedlings struggle to become mature plants. And we will watch in anticipation as our son becomes a man.

1 comment:

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