On others’ baby steps

dscn4378You want me to pick and eat WHAT:  snap peas on a trellis

Certainly, life would be a lot simpler if I (or you) had our way all the time.  In many situations, dictatorship ultimately appears to be such a simple solution:  my way or the highway, you’d say, slashing greenhouse emissions or implementing universal health care or heck doing WHATEVER it is that’s on your burning agenda.  But no.  Most of life is compromise, and much of communal living is searching for that compromise, but…it does help to have a burning agenda.

In our house, it’s my husband who’s the more recalcitrant.  I think back to when, as a preteen, I was learning to ride horses, and one of the first things you learn is you need to speak softly and not make sudden movements or you’ll spook that horse, losing all trust.  Husbands appear to be the same way, and, given their size, they (in my singular experience) can become just as easily spooked AND immediately become as immovable an object as any 1500 lb. quarterhorse, snorting and stomping their feet in indignation.  So!  Lots of change is taken by baby steps around here.  Speak softly, I say.  Move slowly.  Someone, though, still needs to lead.

But substitute “recalcitrant husband” for whatever your own situation is:  perhaps it’s 8 and 10 year old children who resist new foods, or a wife or a grandfather who insists on doing things the way they’ve always been done.  Introduce change slowly:  over time, say, you can substitute more and more whole-wheat flour in your bread and baked goods for less and less nutritionally empty white flour.  New greens on the plate, lovingly grown and harvested and cooked by you:  well, tell that 3- or 30-year old that it’s okay, today, to dump ketchup on them to make them palatable, but tomorrow it could be different.

Another thing I know about working with horses:  They move away from pressure.  Heels in, reins free:  they’re going to charge.  Right heel in, right side of the bit tight:  they’ll step left.  Speaking softly all the way, encouraging them:  you ARE a team if you work at it.  Beating them, screaming, or just being hard on the bit and that’s going to be one resentful horse, and one really frustrated rider.  Anyway, family members can be the same way.  If your people aren’t happy about the changes you wish to implement overnight, then ease up on the reins, folks!

Baby steps!

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11 responses to “On others’ baby steps

  1. El,
    You’ve hit the top of my list with a bullet kiddo, you write beautifully. You truly do. Thanks, Randi

  2. Ditto Randi.
    And horses are much easier than husbands, but that’s my world. I kept the horses.

  3. A wonderful post that hit home with me. I’ve been taking baby steps with my husband for years…but sometimes I lose patience and throw up my hands and get stubborn myself (it’s his health, afterall; if he wants to be obtuse about it, well…). It’s good to be reminded one isn’t in the boat alone. Thanks! And back to baby steps for me.

  4. I am a compromising baby-stepper… my teenage son might not want to eat the greens from the garden but he loves powertools… voile’ a fence for my greens.

    You have a very nice blog… (we’re neighbors 🙂

  5. I love this post! In my mind, I have compared men to horses before. You have to guide them, not force them, otherwise they will buck. And you’ll be left sitting on your rear-end in the dirt, alone. It’s all about working together as a team. 🙂 Life is much more enjoyable that way.

  6. Men and horses…there are just *too* many good things we could say on the subject, however I like your tame but true comparison. 🙂

    All too true also, no matter the flavor of people in our lives. Sometimes it is so very hard not to get impatient and tug the reins a bit too hard.

    Good post..beautiful pea picture!

  7. please, please… don’t tell me this is what the peas look like NOW in YOUR greenhouse…

  8. Let me just say that despite frequent searches for more gardening blogs( because I’m obsessed with gardening and can’t get enough)….yours is the most relevant and the most interesting one I’ve found.

    Yes, relevant despite the fact that I live in California, Sunset zone 9.

    Thanks for taking the time to share your adventures…

  9. This expresses it so well, something that seems to ring true for any living thing – a great analogy. I do admit, I have the tendency to pull a bit too much and it leads to a reaction in the other direction…. what gets frustrating is when I’d make a new item or buy something to make the “goal” more palatable (e.g. some white flour to mix with my regular whole wheat) and it just ends up creating a lot of “mixed” bread that the recalcitrant family member *still* won’t eat after the first day of trying it! Its hard to get through sometimes…. even though I don’t want to force others to do things “my way” all the time, but resisting even trying a new avenue is enough to make me want to just give the reins a good tug every now and then! (Though I do try and resist….)

  10. Aw, thank you, Randi.

    Pamela, hah!

    Deborah, yeah, Tom and I are fairly simpatico on most things but I really think that’s because he wants nothing to do with the gardens or poultry. It’s mostly when my grand schemes (all farm-related) hit his area (the family pocketbook) that our issues come up…and he’ll usually come around if I, uh, speak softly! But being a team and supporting each other is really important…whether it’s health or just little things.

    Patti! (HI neighbor!) THAT’s the kind of teamwork I am talking about. He probably feels great that he can help you even if it is to grow yucky veggies 🙂

    Now now Nat and Christy I wasn’t really saying that Men=Horses, because, in Tom’s defense, I can be the more obstinate ass of the two of us.

    Nat, life is more enjoyable if you all are pulling together, isn’t it! I’ve wound up on my butt alone plenty enough times to know.

    Christy, yeah, it does really take some talent knowing how hard you need to pull to get the desired result. Let’s just say that dictatorship works really well if you’re solo!

    Sylvie, no, it’s from the archives but that’s a great idea. Maybe I will staple trellis netting to the back wall of the old greenhouse this weekend…

    Aw, Liz. Your comment made my day. I always wonder if I stray too far from just plain ole gardening but cultivating relationships is pretty important too.

    MC, yeah, that’s why a bottle of ketchup or a whole lot of garlic is important to keep handy. Seriously. Let them decide: I think if they feel they have some control over the situation then everyone feels a little happier. (Especially if you make the ketchup and grow the garlic.)

  11. “Speak softly, I say. Move slowly.”

    Rock on. Great blog.

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