Photographs and Text by Corey Amaro
When my children were little, we had a magical organic vegetable garden. We had tomatoes until December, green beans that made Jack-in-the-bean-stalk look like any Tom-Dick-or-Harry-kind-of-ordinary-guy, and spinach that made Popeye green with envy.
Our vegetable garden was the talk of the neighborhood.
Our neighbor to the right of our home, asked the neighbor to the left, "How does that American produce such a beautiful vegetable garden?"
The neighbor to the left said, "I heard she doesn't use pesticides."
The neighbor across the street threw in, "I heard she uses fresh manure?"
Mr. Porte, my elderly neighbor, my vegetable gardener- mentor, swelled with pride at his student. I loved that our organic vegetable garden gave him an extra sparkle in his eye.
Mr. Porte gave me wise gardening tips: He told me to put a piece of copper wire in the base of my tomato plants, to prevent the tomatoes from have a grayish-brown bottom, to water the garden only three times a week, and to pick the snails off.
Bugs gave me the creeps.
Luckily, I had little helpers. I told Chelsea (who was 6 at the time) and Sacha (4) to pick off the snails and put them in a bucket.
After plucking the umpteen snail off the vine, Sacha realized that this was not a happy little game, that these snails were doomed. That his Mother had failed him. With tears in his lollipop eyes he begged me, "Mommy, what are you gonna do with these escargots (snails)?"
There comes a point in every child's life when they realize that their Mother is not perfect....unfortunately for me, it happened when Sacha was four.
I didn't know what to say. I wished I had planted daisies instead. I wanted to make up a story with a happy ending. I wanted to say something to reassure him. In my long silence with a look of extreme guilt he started to cry. "YOU are gonna KILL 'em!"
I thought to myself, "Great, I have psychologically damaged my child. He is going to have nightmare. He is going to hate me forever. What can I say, what can I do? Why didn't I use bug spray?"
To my rescue Chelsea stood up wiped her brow, looked at me like I was the child, drop her snails in the bucket, and snapped, "Sacha either they eat or we eat?!"
Sacha bent don't and continued picking the snails off the tomato plants.
Children can handle truth better than we think.