June 03, 2002
Four year olds feel things

Four year olds feel things deeply. They care about things far more differently than we do. More, perhaps.

The other day while I was weeding I found a little tree in my garden. Unlike all the other weeds, and the multitude of maple trees, this one had an acorn attached. A little baby oak tree. Now like I said, there are a ton of baby maples around, but I'm not sure I've ever seen an acorn survive to sprout.

So I tucked it into a pot and gave it to Dani, and we put the pot by the side of the house.

She's been watering it, and been so excited about it. We told her she can keep it and cultivate it, and if it grows well, we'll put it in a bigger pot and she can plant it when we move to another house where there's a place for it. If we can keep it alive for the next five years or so.

This morning I looked at the pot, and it was empty. Completely, and utterly, empty. I pointed it out to Kevin, and he mentioned seeing a chipmunk by the side of the house.

I didn't tell Dani this morning. But this afternoon, as we drove home, I heard her in the back saying, "Mommy, when we get home can I look at my oak tree?"

I sighed heavily. "Honey, I've got some bad news. When I looked at the oak tree this morning... well... what do oak trees come from?"

"Acorns."

"Well, chipmunks think that acorns are food. I think a chipmunk saw the oak tree and thought it was dinner, and didn't know it was a tree."

I thought she was taking it okay at first, and then I realized, she was snuffling... then bawling. She was so upset, and crying horribly, over the loss of her little oak tree (and we'd only planted it over the weekend). It took a while to console her.

When we got home, we looked at the garden, and the flowers. And as we walked down the front yard, I found two more baby oak trees, almost invisible against the retaining wall. Dani asked me to dig them up, and I told her we could bring them inside. So tonight, once she was tucked into bed, I put the two of them into a pot, and we have them upstairs. Safely inside away from squirrels and chipmunks, and also away from a curious cat. She can water them whenever she wants, and watch them grow. And with any luck, we'll cultivate them, and transplant them, and someday she can plant a pair of oak trees she's raised from "babies". Maybe one for her and one for Ryan eventually, if we split them into separate pots.

If the little trees live, it'll be pretty cool. What a story to talk about after twenty years, hm?

Posted by Deb Atwood at June 03, 2002 09:55 PM
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