As a child l spent many happy summers in my Grandpa’s allotment. Apart from the stinging nettles l remember fondly the hours we spent picking and shelling peas, collecting and delivering eggs and harvesting an abundance of fruit and vegetables. I like to think that l have carried on the family tradition and every summer l like to grow my own veg. The feeling of spending time outdoors and eating food straight from the garden feels just as good as it did when l was a child. However, what l didn’t appreciate then, that l do now, is the time and effort that is required to prepare the soil, the incessant weeding and watering and the constant lookout for unwanted pests. I now understand that it takes a lot of commitment for a garden to grow.
I am reminded of this for two reasons. Firstly, this week is Mental Health Awareness Week, which focuses on the power and potential of kindness. We often think of kindness as something that we do for others and can forget that, ‘Being kind to yourself is one of the greatest kindnesses’ (taken from one of my favourite pages in Charlie MacKesy’s beautiful fable, ‘The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse’). For me, my little allotment is a space which allows me to take care of myself, it helps to reduce stress and allows me to focus on just one thing at a time.
Secondly, it reminds me of what happens in the classroom and around school on a daily basis that we can’t provide, in the same way, remotely. In order to know what needs weeding and watering l need to see the plants in front of me. We really miss seeing our pupils. We miss the human interaction that takes place in the classroom, the ways we can offer reassurance with a small nod or spoken words of encouragement. We miss the conversations in the corridors and on the playground. We are missing seeing those early signals which let us know when someone might be struggling or in need of some extra help. Instead, we keep doing our best and thank you for doing yours too.
Just as all too often we forget to be kind to ourselves we can also forget to appreciate these small acts of kindness. The things that, once they are not there, we find ourselves missing the most. Mrs Loxley recently shared with us an extract from a poem about appreciation, written by one of her students. She beautifully captures how appreciation can so easily pass us by but, when caught, makes all of the difference.
All that leaves me to say is that l wish you a lovely half-term. If you are spending time in the garden don’t forget to weed and water those plants and more importantly feed yourselves some kindness!