You Say Tomato, I Say Tomatō

The last 3 months have been hard. While some of us might be wishing that things could go back to the way they were in February, I am hopeful that through all of this our country will be able to address issues that have been embedded in the very fabric of our country.

Many students are experiencing a myriad of emotions right now. Some are confused and feel like a deer in the headlights, others are angry. Some are a little oblivious and just want the pools to reopen so they can go swimming. Being a teenager is a convoluted mix of simplicity and complexity. 

We believe at Loveworks it’s more important than ever to be paying close attention to these emotions and how they can be used for good. It reminded me of a story a few years back about my daughter Nya and the excitement she had about growing a tomato plant. 

“Daddy, daddy, wake up!” 

As I slowly opened my eyes and looked out the bedroom window seeing it was still dark outside, I emphatically asked my 3 year old, to get back to sleep until the sun came up (oh, the perils of getting used to the new normals in life as a parent of a young child). Nya kept persisting and patting my head with her hand to ask me to wake up, go outside, and get the tomatoes. 

To be honest, I had no idea what she was even talking about. By this time, I was starting to get a little upset, my phone said it was 3:43am and my daughter is talking to me about a tomato. So I stood up as Nya persistently pulled on my hand, and I proceeded to shuffle my feet across the floor into the living room. As I became more coherent, it dawned on me what Nya was so excited about. 

The evening before, we planted our first garden together as a family. Not one to be known as having a green thumb, we purchased small tomato plant and cucumber plants that were already shooting out to give us the best chance of eventually picking something off the vines. 

I realized my daughter was assuming the plants would fully bloom overnight. Such innocent expectations and a heart of great faith. Can’t you see that this cute little story of expecting something to change overnight is a powerful life lesson in guiding our kids today? 

The Importance of a Process
Anything worthwhile takes time. Just because you do not see something change on the outside, does not mean that change is not taking place at all. 

I am encouraged when I see young people becoming passionate to pick-up causes that were woven into our country even before we were formed as a nation. 

We need to be a guiding generation of leaders, bosses, moms, dads, teachers, and coaches who will help these young people to continue to fan into flame the gift that is inside of them. 

When Nya first saw there were no large, ripe tomatoes on the vine, I explained the process of growth and handed her the garden hose so we could water the plants together. 

While waiting to harvest, I did these 3 things.

  1. I gave her a vision. I showed her pictures of other gardens with ripe tomatoes to keep the vision alive in her heart. Let us do the same by using historical to present stories of people who have created positive change.
  1. Point out the growth. Not every one of our plants grew and budded, but I made sure that I pointed out the ones that did. There will always be a few bad apples, but that does not negate the ones who are doing good.
  1. We celebrated our first tomato…with plenty of salt 🙂 Who knows what idea your student might have to do good. It could be anything from wanting to attend a protest to writing a letter to the president. The best thing you can do is to be the one who helps them to put the stamp on the envelope. 

Let’s collectively do whatever we can right now to understand our kids emotions and help them to use their passion in a way that will make the world a better place.

“When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it — but all that had gone before.” -Jacob Riis

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