When my now 19 year old daughter was in Grade 3, all of Mrs. Mathews'
students were given a small pot with a bean seed to plant. Green string
beans it seems are pretty hardy and the perfect seed to use when promoting
green thumbs in young children. That same plant was also a most unexpected
source of understanding and insight for me.
Once the bean plants had
sprouted and flowered, their teacher allowed the kids to carefully transfer
the precious cargo from school to home. Once home, Shanna scouted around for
the perfect location and settled on a sunny south window sill and then
proudly declared, "Soon I can feed the whole family!"
Shanna's sisters were envious and even our cat looked intrigued which should
have been a warning to me because when I woke up the next morning, I saw
that the bean plant had been maliciously knocked off the window sill and
ripped from it's pot. It's leaves were frayed and except for a limp thread
of stem that still connected the roots to the flowering top, it was quite
unrecognizable from the day before. The plant, it seemed, was a goner.
I dreaded what I had to tell Shanna but as I gently began to explain that
the bean plant had to be put in the compost, her reaction was not what I
expected. She said, "Everything will be okay Mom, the plant will get
Without wasting a second in thought she secured the first aid kit from the
bathroom returning with gauze, a tongue depressor, bandages and a deep
belief that the pathetic looking, near-dead bean plant would live, thrive
and even produce food!
I had mixed emotions knowing that she was postponing the plants inevitable
trip to the compost bin but I went along with it and helped her wrap
bandages. Days later, to my absolute surprise, the bean plant was standing
tall and looking perky. We were able to remove the bandages and discover a
protruding hump in the stem where its near-fatal stem break had been. It was
also amazing to see that the one and only bean, had become plump almost
completely masking the claw marks that had scarred it.
I don't know why I hadn't thought the cat might go for a second round
because it surely did, and this time I ran for the first aid kit! I
carefully applied a heavy blanket of everything from cotton and gauze to
colored band aids with "ouch" written on them and when the medic work was
done, I whispered a little something to the heavens.
Just one week later we were able to take the bandages off and again we
barely found evidence of an attack and there was even a new sliver of green
where a second bean was forming. I was excited and amazed while Shanna had
been expecting nothing less. Back to the window sill it went but this time
we built a fortress of heavy books to keep it safe until our day of bounty.
I set the table beautifully with all the fanfare of a Thanksgiving dinner.
The beans were carefully divided by 5, which awarded each person 2 small
pieces, claw marks and all. They turned out to be the best green beans I had
My daughter never quite understood my exuberance over the significance of
the beans. In my work as a youth motivator I am brought together with kids
and teens that all desperately need people to believe in them. Now, more
than ever, no matter what I have been told about a child or a teen and their
behavior, I see everyone, no exceptions, with the same eyes and heart that
my daughter used on her broken, beaten up bean plant.
I wonder if it's a coincidence that later that same week, I stumbled upon a
most appropriate quote by Italian Poet Dante (1265-1351): "From a little
spark, may burst a mighty flame."
Especially if you believe...!
Smelling the Roses:
Better Living Through Savoring
Researchers in Positive
Psychology find that people actually get more done if they take time out
to SAVOR their day.
A Random Moment
A grieving mother recollects her son who has left her with a rich legacy of beautiful thoughts.
Living Life to the Fullest?
Many people are worried about dying. Their worry can keep them from
fully enjoying life in the present. But for other people, the
knowledge that they will die someday actually motivates them to live
Here is a beautiful message that will touch your heart in some way.
Humans or Animals?
Sometimes you wonder whether some people are humans or animals
from their behavior.
Moments In Life
There are moments in life when you miss someone so much that you just want to pick them from your dreams and hug them for real!
About the Author:
Monique Howat is a youth motivator, specializing in self-esteem and
founder of Confident Girls and Guys. She presents workshops in
elementary and high schools in and around the Toronto area, coaches,
trains the trainer and is a public speaker. You can visit her website at