My Morning Glory Babies

“Train up a child in the way they should go,
and when they are old they will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

At our newlywed home, there was a little brick 'planter' at the top of the steps to the front door. It was occupied by a big “freeway daisy” when we moved in. Not the prettiest plant in the kingdom. The foliage is somewhat scraggly and the flowers spindly. It was large enough that it encroached on the doorway. At least, this was my list of complaints against the plant when I chose to uproot it.

Long before I tried to actually get the daisy out, I knew that in its place I would plant a morning glory. I could just picture the vine with pretty, lush leaves that would climb the porch post, accented by the almost iridescent purple/blue single petal flowers. I don’t have much of a green thumb, but I know that once morning glories are established, they can grow like weeds, taking over fences and porches and arbors. I figured I should have pretty good success with such a hardy vine.
And while it was no small feat to get the ugly bush out--it was probably 4 feet across with a root that went down eighteen inches (I discovered after I ambitiously decided to remove it on my own one day)--it made the replacement even more beautiful to me.

Once planted though, my specimen seemed to have a difficult time winding up the pole that supported that corner of the roof. I wound a piece of clothesline rope up the post for it to follow. I'd train it up the twine in the afternoon and in the morning I'd find piled in a heap at the bottom of the post. I’d try to coax it back up, gently tucking it under the rope, and later I'd see a tendril reaching away into space, looking for some sort of support. I'd wind it around again. The vine would make a little progress up, then I’d find it collapsed around the bottom of the post again.

The plant never did really “take” the way I’d hoped it would. All the conditions were right; it got great sunlight in the morning, there was plenty of water, I probably even talked to it if that really makes a difference. It wasn't until several years later, after we moved to a location that didn’t get nearly enough sunshine to keep a morning glory happy, that I finally learned what I did wrong.

I missed one really important factor. I didn’t know that morning glories naturally wind counterclockwise. I wound mine clockwise. No wonder the poor thing couldn’t thrive; I was trying to train it against its nature!

It has occurred to me that kids are like that morning glory. They are pre-designed with a specific bent that can’t be changed with coercion or guidewires. An introvert can learn to be friendly, but they may always be drained by being involved in many activities with lots of other kids. The bookworm may find areas of competence on the athletic field, but might never develop a competitive streak that will make them a champion.

Although a total extrovert, people have always commented on Bug’s ability to focus on one task and entertain himself for long periods of time at even a very young age. While he loves going to school and being around lots of kids, we've discovered he also needs some "alone time" when he gets home to decompress.

Boo, on the other hand, is all physical all the time. He loves to run and crash and wrestle--even with me! He may bring me a story to read, but it’s most likely one that requires loud sound effects, funny voices or motions that accompany the words. And it isn't the entertainment of the story he's really after, it's his way of letting me know that he wants to slow down and have some lap time. He desires physical contact even in his quiet moments.

Having seen the effects when I misread my morning glory, I know I don’t want to repeat my botanical failures with my babies. There is no Sunset Western Garden handbook that explains which direction to wind them so they can bloom to their fullest.

Will my children fall into a proverbial heap of failure because I am expecting things counter to their God-given nature? Will they reach out to find another support because what I offer isn't what they need? Or will I, knowing their hearts and strengths and nature, provide the right foundation from which they can grow and climb to unimaginable heights and blossom to the fullness for which they were created?

Morning Glory Muffins
Serve Morning Glory Muffins when you need a reminder that each member of your family has a God-given bent that they must follow. It's our job to provide the right environment for them to bloom.

• 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 1/4 cups sugar
• 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
• 2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3 eggs
• 3/4 cup applesauce
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 cups grated carrots
• 1 medium tart apple, peeled and grated
• 1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
• 1/2 cup flaked coconut
• 1/2 cup raisins
• 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, combine the eggs, applesauce, oil and vanilla. Add dry ingredients to egg/applesauce mixture; do not over mix. Gently stir in carrots, apple, pineapple, coconut, raisins and nuts.

Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-24 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.


Liz said...

What a truly beautiful post! I loved this. And thanks also for the morning glory tips, I'm hoping to grow some this spring and didnt know any of that!

Anonymous said...

Wow, that was a great post! I haven't followed your blog for long, but I didn't figure it to be a gardening blog so much! So I was wondering where you were going with the morning glories You're so right though. My daughter's almost three, and I am trying hard not to mold her into what I want her to do and be. Thanks for the great post!

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Fabulous teaching, here. I've tried to parent my children according to my way of doing things, rather than considering their individual needs and personalities. After nearly 20 years, I've learned, albeit slow. I, too, am changing inside. I'm not nearly as extroverted as I used to be; I crave solitude and quiet (perhaps because of the 4 kids that fill my world with noise and proximity). Thank goodness, my God knows what I need and is willing to grow me in the right direction!

Thanks for your prayers for me and Beth today. She's currently in surgery. Also, kids have a day off tomorrow. We'll work on the Valentine book, and maybe do the yummy treat also. Depends on my mood. Scratch that. Depends on my want to.


Mindy said...

I love this post. It is beautifully written.

Thank you for your words of wisdom!

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