Accidental Homeschooling: Week 14
Try, try again.
I have never been a houseplant person. The last time I had a plant by choice, it was a tiny little plant in a tiny little pot that I had when I was in college and lived in a dorm. I don’t remember ever once drinking water when I was a college student (making my current pretty-good health an even bigger miracle), so I watered the plant with what I had on hand, and what I drank: Mountain Dew.
The plant did not thrive on Mountain Dew. Or, I should say, it thrived for a week, and then it promptly keeled over and died.
My torture of that poor little plant aside, I really do like plants and greenery. I love being outside. I have never once complained about cutting the lawn; it’s one of my favorite jobs. But somehow, I never saw the point of having plants indoors.
When we started homeschooling, I decided that was going to change.
I never really understood having plants in the house (I used to hate watering and cleaning around my mother’s plants, which included ferns and spider plants and other things that mostly just seemed like a big mess). But if I could combine those plants with science class? Yeah, okay. Now we’re getting somewhere.
So I thought that for one of our science units we would get and plant some herbs, and take care of them. This part of our experiment has gone really well. Mostly because we ordered already living herbs from a plant company, and we plunked them into pots and sat them in our nice sunny front window. The boys are in charge of watering and rotating them, and pretty soon I’m going to show them how to use rosemary when roasting a chicken. Yup, we totally had this.
Then I got too ambitious.
I also decided we would grow “sprouts” for our salads. Not plants, not even microgreens, mind you, but sprouts. (There’s a difference between all three, which you find out when you fall down the Internet rabbit hold of houseplant research.) I got a book called Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening, bought potting soil, tracked down organic sprout seeds, and tried to get the boys interested in planting seeds that would become sprouts.
They did pretty well with it…until we took our first planting out of the dark cupboard it was supposed to germinate in for four days. It was then that we saw our broccoli seeds had developed mold (see the fuzzy white stuff in the picture below) and the whole tray had to be tossed.
I was disappointed, and annoyed, because what if all our sprout plantings do this? What if we never figure it out? What if this little project is just another waste of time and money that never yields us any delicious and healthy little salad sprouts?
What if, in short, this sprouts idea is like 99% of the other ideas I’ve had in my life? Not big ideas, not grand ideas, not profitable ideas, mind you, but just little ideas I still manage to execute poorly and which almost always fail?
And then I thought…so what? And I laughed. Because that’s what you do when you’re in your forties and the world is whacked out and you’re tired of trying a million things that don’t work. Because somewhere in the middle of things not working you realize…Yup, that’s life.
And that, I figured, was as good a lesson to teach the boys this week as any.
We failed, but we did manage to learn a little bit about the scientific method while we did so. You have an idea (a hypothesis), you try it out, it doesn’t work, so you either stick with the same idea and tweak your process, or you get a new idea.
So what are we going to do? We’re going to tweak.
We’ve planted two new pans. We’re going to try and find them a slightly warmer dark cupboard, and we’re going to try again.
My wish for you this week is that if your week is filled with failure, it at least ends up making you laugh. And may you always try, try again.