There is a change in the air. Finally, autumn is here. Early Sunday morning, we finally had some significant clouds, making for a beautiful sunrise. Monday is bringing our first downpour of rain since summer started, which seems like not so long ago. Tootles is finally settling in to his school, though first grade is more challenging on so many more levels than kindergarten ever was.
And, although I would’ve thought a unit on growing plants would happen in the spring, Tootles’ teacher has started a science unit on plant life now, perhaps in light of the harvest season. Never, in my wildest dreams nor in my instincts, did I expect the reaction Tootles would have to this project.
On the day this science unit was introduced, he was terrified. He could not be calmed down. Apparently, he wanted the teacher to put seeds away and let her know emphatically, in front of the class. He did not want to touch, look at, hear about or be in the same room with the seeds. He melted wholeheartedly. It was late afternoon last Monday. When I picked him up, I learned of his new found fear.
Admittedly, I’m always a little on edge during the school day. I’ve had calls to the office for eyelashes, and to bring Tylenol for a headache. I’ve had questions about extra underwear and been forced to leave the field trip early from sensory overload. This is all within the first seven weeks of school. Now, he’s had to leave the classroom to compose himself from tears over a class project about seeds.
The first day it happened, it was afternoon and left us all a bit curious as to why on Earth seeds would make him uncomfortable.
When he was just 3 years old, I had a small vegetable garden out in the back yard. He helped me plant, water and grow but the plants had all been saplings. I don’t think I grew anything from seeds. He was quite content to explore the garden and helped pick some zucchini that year.
This new fear was something out of nowhere. I talked to him about it after school and on the way home. And I went straight to something he’d been obsessed about off and on for years, an episode of Blue’s Clues, called “The Grow Show.”
For years, Toots has had his “top ten” of Blue’s Clues episodes. Blue’s Big Birthday, Blue’s Big Car Trip, and What Experiment Does Blue Want to Do? among others. But “The Grow Show” was right up there as probably his #2 pick behind Blue’s Big Birthday as his very favorite. It is all about planting seeds and watching them grow. In particular, there was a section where Mr. Salt and Mrs. Pepper discuss where orange juice comes from and we go through the whole planting of a seed, getting a tree, getting the orange and juice. He loves this section of the show. In fact, as I wrote this post and looked for images, we watched it on Netflix (yes, I finally figured out how to use Netflix, thank you). Toots has always requested demanded repeat after repeat of that 60 second clip of the show. His next most loved clip? A song about where oranges, potatoes, and grapes grow.
As he: (a) had the deep love for this particular episode of Blue’s Clues, and (b) he helped me in the garden with such excitement all summer when he was 3, I had nothing but questions about why he would now have developed this fear.
It took some detective work by Toots’ senior tutor the day after the fear started. She had to pull him from the classroom because of his anxiety. He did not want to go back into the classroom at all. This text exchange occurred between us:
You see, Tootles sits at the end of the front row of the classroom on the side where there is a large counter space. The counter houses a terrarium where two geckos live. Geckos, I’ve come to learn, eat crickets.
There had been a fresh delivery of crickets right around the time the seed project started. The teacher kept the seed supplies (sunflowers with seeds, marigold seeds, etc…) on the same counter as the crickets. Our brilliant senior tutor managed to extract enough information from Tootles to piece together that he thought the seeds were making the cricket sounds. He thought the seeds were “alive” and this scared him.
He had to be convinced the seeds were not making the cricket sounds. Once he was told the crickets were making the sound he heard, he calmed down… mostly.
Over the last few days, I bought some supplies and we took him outside to plant some seeds. Hopefully, these will sprout, and if kept indoors, I might get some salsa ingredients and fresh herbs.
Well, the geckos got their food. Hopefully, I will get mine too.