Recently a dear friend gave me three very large, beautiful potted plants. I was so excited about my new unique treasures. After she lovingly reminded me these plants must be housed indoors for the winter but can hypothetically be outdoors during the summer, I lovingly placed them in my backyard.
I admired them for hours and moved them around again and again to find the perfect placement for each sweet plant. It was a beautiful day, but of course, we live in Texas, so the weather suddenly changed and a windy thunderstorm rolled in.
A couple hours into the storm, I trekked outside to check on my new plants. To my horror the tallest and coolest plant had not enjoyed the storm and had lost around 60 percent of its leaves.
I gathered my strength to maneuver the huge plant into my home as fast as I could.
A little later I grew concerned about one of the other plants being over watered by the rain and also brought it in.
The final plant, which is basically a tree, I tried to leave outside longer. But after a week I realized it wasn’t doing well outside in the heat and brought it inside as well.
It amazes me how different plants have such unique needs. What you do for one plant so it will thrive will kill the next. Some need tons of water, some need very little. Some like the wind, others are overcome by it. Some need to be pruned often, some need almost no pruning at all. Some needs tons of sun, others need almost constant shade. Some need to be contained in pots or they completely take over, others must be replanted every single year.
Plants grow at different times of the year and for different amounts of time.
This is a challenge for me with plants: They have such unique needs. For every plant I own, I feel compelled to search the Internet and try to become an amateur expert on each of my plants.
Unique Gifts and Unique Care
Plants can be a reminder about how unique our children are and the unique care they require, and that amazes me.
I love how plants have unique features. They look different, smell different, and have different benefits and potentially dangerous characteristics.
In the same way, kids have such different gifts and strengths and completely different needs.
With my first child, I found some things that gave her encouragement. I found ways she felt loved and valued. I figured out how she learned and how she would best understand discipline and doing the right things
Of course, our second child was completely different. The things that made our first child feel loved made our second feel annoyed. The way our first child needed attention and validation was completed the opposite of the needs of our second.
Then came our third. Reset all the skills we had learned again. She was her own unique individual with her own unique needs.
And you guessed it, the fourth was the same — different.
I’m guessing there are more more varieties of kids personalities than there are varieties of plants.
You Don’t Pick Your “Plant”
Unlike a plant where you may go to a store and choose the one you like and believe you can care for well, you don’t get to choose your child.
To a much lesser degree, having a child is like being given a plant to care for but not being told what type it is. You have no clue how the child will look, how he or she will learn, what will interest him, or what personality she will have.
As you watch some plants grow, it may seem like something isn’t right. Sometimes the leaves start dying, but you don’t know why. Sometimes your plant seems to be blooming later than others or not in the form you expected.
But plants remind us that some of the most beautiful flowers are the most poisonous. They are such a gift to look at, but we don’t find their value in eating them.
Some plants are sharp and hurt to touch. But their defensive makeup has an important purpose. Some plants were created this way to protect something important.
Some plants never have flowers. They weren’t made to. I love my mint plants so much. They smell wonderful, and we love to add mint to a number of things we eat and drink. But mint plants shouldn’t flower if you use them properly.
Trees can be huge, strong, and protective. Flowers can be delicate, fragile, and beautiful.
We are surrounded by so many diverse plants, and we need a world this way. We need different plants just as we need different kids.
Different Gifts Mean Different Needs
I observe my plants a lot and am constantly adapting my care for them whenever they have any hint of being unhealthy. In the same way, there is such a great need for us to adapt our care for our children.
Let’s not crush the fragile ones. Let’s not devalue those that don’t flower but have other purposes. Let’s not look down on those who bloom late. Let’s not dislike those who have more needs. Let’s not look past those who offer the most simple and basic things yet aren’t made to be especially “fancy” or unique.
As we care for the unique children we have been entrusted with, may we learn well who they are and care for them in the way where they can flourish as they are created to. And may we enjoy the beauty of watching them grow.