When you embark on something of this nature, you must be determined and committed. Intense tomato staking is time consuming and draining. It is a precious gift, not to be given lightly. With this offering, you are pouring into their hearts your love, attention and wisdom. You are committing to watch, train and correct in a proactive manner rather than reacting AFTER trouble has occurred and sin has taken root.
It is a sacrifice and a privilege.
Rachel and her minions sell tomato plants.
As Elizabeth Krueger says on her Raising Godly Tomatoes website:
A tomato plant grows fast, big, and wild. If left untended, it soon sprawls out into an unwieldy heap. As the fruit grows, it weighs the plant down to the ground. Propping by this time is too late. Any attempt to retrain and redirect the growth of the branches will result in breakage and substantial loss of the fruit due to rot, disease, and pests.
On the other hand, a tomato plant which has been properly cared for, will produce an abundance of excellent fruit. From the beginning it must be watered, cultivated, pruned, fertilized, examined for pests, and staked up. The branches will grow the way they were propped and trained, and when the fruit is large and ripe the branches will have the strength to hold those beautiful tomatoes up off the wet ground. What a delight!
This is a time of serious tomato staking for our middle son, Daniel (age 11). After-the-fact discipline has not been highly effective in his life. The “teaching moments” have not met a teachable spirit. As homeschoolers we have a built in platform for tomato staking – the children are with me nearly the entire day. We have an added blessing in Tim’s work situation. He telecommutes several days each week.
Meet one of my favorite tomato plants.
It has been nearly a week that Daniel’s been at Tomato Stake Boot Camp. Each morning he remains in his room until Tim or I are awake and up. Throughout the day he stays near one of us. If he wants to play outside, he has to convince a parent to join him. On Sunday I stayed home from church with a backache. Daniel kept me company. We listened to Odyssey radio episodes on the Whit’s End website and then worked on thank you notes together.
In the evening Tim took Daniel with him to a meeting at church while I hosted Small Group here at our house. When they returned home, Tim went with Daniel out in the playroom and joined the kids (ours plus company) in a rousing game of Poor Sick Child (don’t ask).
Tonight Tim and I went for a walk after dinner. Daniel ran after us, shouting that he needed to be with us. Praising him for remembering, we sent him to get his helmet and bike and follow our path.
Intense Tomato Staking means we intervene before trouble bubbles and spills over. It means we encourage right behavior quickly and cheerfully. It means we discuss, share and reveal our hearts as Christ followers. It means we get to see Daniel’s sweet, funny spirit more often because he is at peace. There is less sulking, fighting or feeling rebuked. It means we get to know his character and his personality.
And what a character he is!
I have been blessed by this experience. What I pour into Daniel’s life I more than reap in wisdom, joy and growth.
Is it easy? No.
Is God stretching me as a mother? Absolutely.
Am I seeing change and growth in Daniel? Definitely.
I will continue pressing on for this is a worthy goal.
If you are interested, I recommend spending some time browsing around at the Raising Godly Tomatoes website. There is a rich store of articles on parenting and I am encouraged every time I stop by.
To Daniel – thank you for letting me share this journey in such a public venue. I love you with all my heart and give this tomato staking time to you as a gift of myself.