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Like a gardener, I’m helping them bloom

Challenged to grow: trimming flowers is much like raising children, says our columnist

Husayn Symonds

I have a lot of respect for gardeners and farmers. Their craft is probably the most important in human history — next to the internet and the invention of the printing press.

What I find beautiful about the process of gardening is the relationship between its preparation and yield stages.

I used to live in Israel, where I volunteered in Haifa. I spent a year or so working at Bahá’í holy places, which are considered major tourist attractions in the region because of their meticulously manicured gardens. I grew a lot of admiration for gardeners during this period because of their dedication and craftsmanship.

I’ve mentioned previously how I liken humans to plants in terms of development. I’d like to take that analogy in a new direction. We all look to shield and protect our children from harm, that’s a given. Nobody would want or willingly put their child in harm’s way. I would argue, however, that harm is different than adversity.

Both of these circumstances can result in painful and unpleasant experiences but one of them, adversity, can be managed and controlled to a certain extent.

When I was living in Israel I was intrigued by how the gardeners took care of some of the plants, the roses in particular. They would trim, hack and chop their rose bushes almost to the point of being unrecognisable. At first I really thought the gardeners were having a collective bad day. I was confused, but I didn’t inquire with any of them — they were friendly enough, I could have asked!

To my surprise, once the rose bushes began growing back, I witnessed roses the size and fragrance of which words can’t really capture.

Then I understood. The gardeners were challenging the rose bushes to work through adversity.

I’m certain the bushes didn’t enjoy (in their own way) being trimmed. But the gardener exposed the bushes to the right adversity, and gave it the right trial to work through in order to be more beautiful than it once was.

“Nip it in the bud”, as they say. I wish to help my children develop in this way. It might be painful and arduous for them, but I am their constant gardener now. I imagine how beautiful their character can become if I help them this way. I just need to figure out what and how to trim their branches (traits) the right way.

This growth isn’t just for children. Gardening/parenting is hard work and it’s hard to find a craft where hard work is done that doesn’t benefit the one doing it.

While the children become more beautiful flowers, the parents become more patient, understanding, compassionate and kind. Sounds good to me, because I need work too.