A few weeks ago I cut up an avocado for a salad. Leal, my two-year-old, was helping to put the pieces in a bowl. When I threw the skin and seed into the compost bucket, he started to protest.
So I took them out and put them back on the counter.
With incredible attention and focus he studied the leathery skins and showed me with amusement how they were different on each side. Then he set those down and picked up the seed with a huge grin. “Ball!” he said, and cradled it so carefully in his hands. He looked at that seed with what I could only interpret as awe.
I had to dust off my imagination to see through Leal’s uncluttered eyes what would make an avocado seed worthy of such a grin. It didn’t take long to remember that it is kind of a miracle to find an almost perfectly round hard brown ball hiding in the midst of that squishy yellowy green flesh covered by that thick bumpy black skin.
Leal played with that amazing seed for about an hour, talking to it, showing it his train, reading it a book, hiding it and finding it again. Eventually we balanced it in a jar of water. We’re waiting for it to grow. Every morning he asks to have his seed sit with him for breakfast. I imagine this is because I’m always telling him to eat so he’ll grow. He holds it and looks it over, pointing out changes. I’ve seen him try to give the seed eggs, but it’s never been very responsive to breakfast foods.
Since the arrival of the avocado we’ve planted other kinds of seeds, and they have sprouted little green leafy heads that also must make their appearance at the table. Leal likes to pet them and talk to them. “Seed! Seed!” he demands as soon as he arrives in the kitchen each morning. We take them down and with great ceremony appreciate their beauty.
When I think about the trajectory of our discoveries together since Leal first found his seed, I marvel at what teachers and students could learn if they had the same freedom of time, imagination, and curriculum.
I set out to make a salad – but together we found the magic of seeds. What wonderful things like this are being missed each day because we focus so much on finding the things we know, and not on the things our children can teach us?