A sudden change in our situation brought us from a small town to a crowded bustling city; from an independent cottage in the village to a one-bedroom flat in a high rise condominium. It was claustrophobic and my young son bereft of his father and missing all his friends, retreated into himself, monosyllabic, sad and depressed.
His teacher a plant lover proved to be a great influence on him. She was sure that a splash of green on our tiny balcony would work miracles.
“Son,” she said, “I’m giving you my potted plant to look after. It needs a lot of tender loving care. I know that you can’t keep a dog or a cat or even a canary in your flat. But caring for this plant will bring you a lot of joy. Touch it, smell it, or even sing or speak to it whenever you have time on your hands or when you feel lonely.”
Things have now changed for the better. He rejoices at every new leaf that sprouts. He moves the pot around so that too much sunlight doesn’t singe it. He is careful not to drench it with too much water. The plant seems to have sapped up all his negativity. He is his old chirpy self and hums or whistles as he goes about his work. He even visits the nursery close by and knows the names of many plants. He marvels at the unusual leaf shapes and textures of different plants in the nursery.
“Mum,” he said one day, “I want to have a mini haven in our balcony. Can I buy two more potted flowering plants? Someday when I grow up I may even become a gardener.”
I’m so thankful to that thoughtful teacher who presented my son with a potted plant. It has proves to be an effective and inexpensive form of mind therapy.