Blueberries and the Unhurried Child ~ Inspiration from the Garden

© 2013 Marji ZintzWe have several highbush blueberry shrubs growing here on our 2 acres in the Catskill Mountains.  They are prolific, yielding lots of blueberries.  But, not all at once.  There are many, many ~ hundreds, perhaps, of little green fruits on all these plants.  Many are green, and some are purpling and bluing.  This has been going on for a couple of weeks now, and we have gotten about a pint of blueberries every day.  I have noticed that the ripe ones are easily picked; the not-so-ripe ones resist a bit.  I guess they will mostly all ripen, but not at the same rate.  What determines their rate of ripening?  I don’t know.  I don’t think there is any way I can force them to ripen at a quicker rate while they’re still on the bush.  Once they are picked from the bush, they stop ripening, although the ripening process can be forced by using some tricks, like sticking them in a paper bag with a banana or an avocado.  The ripe blueberries, just picked, taste incredible!  The not-so-ripe ones taste sour.  I wonder what nutrients or properties might be missing from the not-so-ripe berries that have been ripened in the paper bag.  I don’t know.

That’s all interesting to me, because I think of how this all applies to peaceful parenting.  In this society, children are grouped together by an arbitrary number (their chronological age) and are held to certain expectations.  They should be able to do certain things, and if they cannot or do not want to, they are diagnosed with some disorder or other.  Now, children are not blueberries–I get that.  However, like blueberries, children all “ripen” at different rates.  They acquire skills and skill sets differently from kid to kid.  Like the clusters of blueberries that ripen at different rates, some kids cut their first tooth at 4 months, others at 8 months.  Some kids start walking at 10 months; some kids at 14 months or even 18 months.  Some kids start yakking up a storm at 10 months!  Others have nothing much to say until 3 years of age.  Left to their own processes, some acquire reading at 4 years of age; other kids, 13 years of age.  There is nothing wrong with what some may call the “outliers.”  They simply deviate from the norm, which is an arbitrary set of expectations based on what is most convenient for institutionalization.

And, this only becomes a problem when children are separated into groups according to an arbitrary small piece of data that is used to define them:  their age.  If this same standard were held to blueberries, folks would say there was something wrong with the blueberries that stayed green while the other ones turned blue.  And, they would say that the early blue-turning blueberries were “gifted.”  Nah.  They’re just blueberries being blueberries.  Ripening at their own rate for their own sake.  And, they are ALL delicious when they have finally ripened.


2 responses to “Blueberries and the Unhurried Child ~ Inspiration from the Garden

  1. I couldn’t agree more with this. I have twin girls with developmental delays, and it can be hard navigating a world that sets expectations based on an arbitrary age. I just went through this at my church. There is a strict age cut off of four years old for allowing a child to stay in the church nursery and if they are older they are expected to stay with their parents most of the time during the church service. I know my twins aren’t ready to stay quiet and in the pews so they need to still be in nursery. Thankfully, after some discussion the church has given us a six month extension, and we will reevaluate the issue again at that time.

    And their developmental delays are another reason we are homeschooling. I don’t want them to always feel like they are behind their peers. I want them to be satisfied with their progress at the moment and not always worry about what they are lacking. Of course, they will learn those things too eventually but not at the same pace as most of their peers.

    Though, the only small disagreement i have is that our kids are amazing even if they haven’t “ripened” yet. =)

    • YES! You are SO RIGHT!! That is a glaring oversight in this aphorism. In fact, think the green blueberries are amazing, too. They are just as beautiful. The aphorism falls short because it suggests that the blueberries (and people) have no intrinsic value until they have ripened, and that is really short-sighted. I cannot speak to the value of a green blueberry, and just because I don’t know what its value is, that does not mean it does not have a value. I don’t have to understand its value in order for there to be a value. You know?

      Anyway, I really appreciate your entire comment and especially your disagreement. It is an excellent point!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s