The Littlest One and the Green Tomato
"Mum, here mum, let's eat this one"... I hear this little voice behind me and turn to see my littlest holding a small, green tomato. She is so proud of herself, smiling as she walks towards me holding it outstretched. Oh dear. Not the tomatoes. I have been waiting months for them to ripen as it's been a particularly slow season this summer. My expression says it all and her little smiling face changes instantly. I want to be upset with her but find it difficult for she tries so hard to help me in garden. So instead, I explain to her again that we don't pick green tomatoes.
What can I say about my littlest one? She is the perfect example of not knowing you want something until you have it, for we were quite happily done with two. Yet, as the story goes, life had other plans and now here she is, her beaming smile and golden yellow hair and that sweetest little voice, picking my green tomatoes.
At two years old, I am still totally her most favorite person in the world (OK, her dad is too), and unlike the older two, Little Miss four year old and Master six, who quite happily entertain themselves, she follows me around the garden like my shadow.
When ever I bend down to inspect something, she bends down with me. When ever I weed or plant or water, she will weed and plant and water as well. And when ever I harvest, she harvests too... or so she thinks. What she is really doing is ripping unripe fruits from their stems and stepping on tender seedlings and drowning my plants with her over enthusiasm for watering in the one spot for fifteen minutes. Yet, I keep letting her do these little things beside me.
To be completely fair, I am not always as patient as I could be with her and when I discovered her squatting under the bird net eating the not yet ripe blueberries off the shrubs, I got upset and told her off. As I did when I asked her to wait for me at the path, instead, continuing to walk up behind me and trampling each one of our young pumpkins plants as she did.
After these moments I always feel the pangs of regret. For being the youngest of three, I am only too well aware of how quickly children grow. Before I know it she will be way more interested in pretending to be a princess in her cubby house castle than following me around in the garden. Furhermore, I do not want to extinguish the natural curiosity and sense of exploration that comes with being two years old and when you have a garden that is filled with as many things to explore as ours, I can hardly blame her.
The love this one has for exploring the garden with her mamma is matched by her love of being in front of the camera, for this little one has become quite the exhibitionist. Her radar is on full alert when I am out harvesting in the garden and she will come darting as quickly as those little legs can carry her asking if I can take a photo of her holding that zucchini, or pumpkin or corn (thank you Instagram). Unlike the other two who never let me take photos of them (without bribery of some kind), this little missy glows in the spotlight.
I have grown to absolutely love her little commentaries on what ever it is she is holding... 'mum this zucchini is prickly'... 'mum, this pumpkin is so heavy'... 'mum, this isn't corn, this is an icy pole'! Then there are, of course, the moments of relentless questions.... 'mum is this a flower, what is the flower called, can I eat the flower, can Coco the dog eat the flower, can the chickens eat the flower....?' To which I will always answer her questions no matter many times I have repeated myself.
This year in particular, I will relish in her company; as her brother has just resumed school and her sister is about to start three days of kindergarten, it will be, for the first time, just her and I for much of the week. As I expect this year to fly past as quickly as the last year did, I will hold onto her eagerness to be near me for as long as possible and until she is old enough to walk through the garden without trampling everything in her path, I will carry her instead.