After a long winter, I like to jump-start spring with a pot of pansies on the front porch. This year, Jet and I planted them together. Toddlers have little patience with long preparations. Actually, they don’t have much patience for brief delays either. Toddlers like to get right down to business, so I prepared for the planting the night before. When Jet arrived in the morning, the front porch was graced with 2 containers of pansies, a scrub bucket, a sand pail, a trowel, a sand shovel, a filled watering can and a pseudo-clay container with last season’s potting soil. All moisture had evaporated from the pot thanks to a cold winter under the cover of the front porch and the soil was very dry.
As I expected, Jet admired the flowers but her interest in the purple and yellow blooms was quickly overshadowed by the soil.
“Watch Grandma,” I said, scooping soil from the pot and depositing it in the sand bucket. I did it again and handed her the plastic shovel.
“You do it,” I said. Jet gamely poked her shovel into the pot and lifted. Dry bits of soil fell on her sleeve as she dumped it into the bucket.
“Durt,” she said and looked at me with dismay.
“It’s okay,” I told her. “Grandma will clean it off when we are all done. It will come off.”
“Durt! Fix it!” she demanded, brushing anxiously at her jacket.
“Don’t worry, I’ll fix it later. I promise it will come off,” I told her as I looked firmly into her eyes. Her brows knitted together as she considered this. I could see her forehead smooth at the moment she decided to go with the flow.
We worked together for some time. I took little bits on my trowel to keep pace with her shoveling. When Jet’s pail was full, we dumped it into the scrub bucket and kept going. Before we knew it, we had emptied half the pot and it was time to add the flowers.
Jet looked at the flowers and immediately realized that they impeded her access to the dirt in the pot. “Gamma! Out!” she said, grabbing at my hands and directing them toward the offending flowers.
“Now we put the dirt back in the pot,” I told her and demonstrated by adding a scoop. She thought about it for a second and found this acceptable. When all the soil was in one container again, I brightly informed her that it was time to water the flowers.
“Wahder!” she agreed. I demonstrated. She grabbed the handle of the watering can. “Mine!” she declared.
“Well,” I told her, “This is Grandma’s but I will share it with you!” We poured the entire contents of the can into the pot.
“There — doesn’t that look pretty?” I asked. Jet did not answer. She was busy getting her pail so that she could take the dirt back out of the pot.
“Durt!” she demanded. Her face was intense. I’ve seen that look before. I was about to face an intractable force. I fervently wished that we had not added the water to the pot, because I would have been happy to let her do it all over again.
“We can’t take it out now,” I told her. “It’s all wet.”
“Wet,” she repeated. I could tell that wetness did not seem to her a very good reason to stop. Tears were imminent. I was saved by the timely arrival of the roofing company.
“Look, Jet,” I told her with heart-felt enthusiasm. “Here is the man who is going to fix Grandma’s roof! We can watch him!”
“Watch,” said Jet. And we did.