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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Garden (09/07/06)

TITLE: Teachable Moments
By Kimberly Barnes


“Mommy, what will make the plants grow?”

“Why do plants need water?”

“How will we know what each seed will grow into?”

The never ceasing stream of questions flowed freely in the garden that day. Two small boys with dirt smudged faces and mud up to their elbows grinned and laughed as they dug the holes and placed the tiny seeds in each one carefully. I tried to answer each question with patience, for this was one of my teachable moments. Their hands were busy. Their ears were listening, and the moment would all too soon pass.

“Can we plant watermelons?”

“No, let’s plant bananas.”

“Banana’s don’t grow in gardens.”

“Yes, they do!”

“No, they don’t.”

“Mommy, tell him!”

They stopped only long enough to look to me for the answer to yet another unsolvable question. I continued digging as I explained calmly that bananas indeed grew on trees.

“I told you so!”

“You can plant trees in gardens!”

“Can not!”

“Can too!”

I wiped sweat from my brow, pulled the boys apart and wondered why I had ever thought that a family garden was a good idea. Oh yes, teachable moments. A garden should be full of teachable moments.

“Are we growing squash?”

“Do we have to eat it?”

“That’s disgusting!”

“Are you sure we can’t just grow bananas?”

I leaned my hoe against the fence and looked at them. Frustration was growing, yet I kept saying to myself, “teachable moments”. I began to speak in love and wisdom. “You see, guys. . .”

“He threw dirt in my eye!”

“No, I didn’t!”

“Yes, you did! You’re gonna get it!”

“Mommy! He’s trying to take my shovel!”


My face was red with more than a slight sunburn. I felt my temper rising. The teachable moment was gone! “That’s it! Put your tools down and go in the house!”

I sat down on my garden bench and stared at the little seeds in my hands. I didn’t know why I thought I could do this. I’ve never been able to grow anything. My mom has a green thumb, and after years of trying to teach me to garden, she just started buying me plastic plants. Maybe this is just not worth the effort. I probably wasn’t going to get much to grow anyway.

“Mommy?” A little voice interrupted my thoughts.

“We’re sorry. We’ll be good.”

“I want to make a garden.”


I looked at the little seeds again. I wasn’t sure if they would ever grow into beans and peas, but I was sure of one thing. In such a small amount of time, these boys would grow into men. I didn’t need a green thumb to make that happen. My time was short. They needed patience, guidance, and lots of love. I hugged them both and started over.

“Now, put these seeds in the holes we made.”

“Will it take them long to grow?”

“Not as long as you might think.”

“Will you take good care of them everyday?”

“I promise.”

“What will we do when they get big?”

What indeed? I couldn’t stop to think about it now. I was in the middle of a teachable moment, and it would all too soon be gone. My garden moment, however, may have been a teachable moment just for me.

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This article has been read 877 times
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Sara Harricharan 09/15/06
Delightful! I loved the dialouge between the two boys and the way you did more "show" than "tell". Always a plus!
lynn rodgers09/15/06
i loved it. the only question i have is how old are the boys? it would be much easier to visualise the story if the reader knew. also that little fact wuold keep the reader more engaged
Mo 09/17/06
Very nice! (& the plastic plants line made me smile.)
Everest Alexander 09/18/06
I loved this piece! Kept my interest from start to finish. Very engaging!

Good work with the boy's dialog. I was able to both feel and see what was taking place in the garden.

Maybe just a tad more physical description of the garden next time but otherwise, very well written!
Joanne Sher 09/21/06
Incredibly wonderful job with the dialogue here - SO authentic! And a wonderful lesson. Congrats on 6th in the EC!
william price09/21/06
Outstanding job Kimberly!!!
Congrats on first place here and your editors choice. Well done. God bless.
Birdie Courtright09/21/06
Congrats to you! This is exceptional!
joy clarkson09/22/06
Excellent. Wonderful dialogue.You kept me interested and amused with the boys' banter. Thought provoking last line. Congrats !
Karen Treharne09/23/06
Congratulations Kimberly. I loved this story and, since I raised two boys of my own, I could readily relate!
Philip Barnes09/24/06
I'm super proud of you. This is great stuff. EC #6 that's better than me on my best day. I'll have to work harder. I love you, Hom!
Sue Goodreau09/25/06
Congrats on your win! I loved the scenario--a mom with great plans to teach, and two boys that argue and end up driving the mom crazy, instead. Very realistic!

Good ending, bringing the truth to mind that our kids grow up so fast. I really liked your use of the phrase "teachable moments" throughout the story.

Good job, and keep it up!
Cherry Bieber 09/27/06
This is very, very good. I am still smiling. As I read, I relived that time some twenty-five years ago,only it was two little girls.
Kathie Thomas05/09/07
Apologies for contacting you this way but we need your bio note please for the Faithwriters book "Hidden in the Hymns". Can you please contact me?