My daughter Lainey is 5 years old, and I love her. She considers herself quite the gardener and keeps a close eye on her strawberry patch.
Many berries have recently turned red, and Lainey capitalized. “Strawberries for sale! Who wants strawberries?” she yelled.
“How much?” I asked.
“Two pennies each. Pretty good price, huh?” she grinned.
until a saboteur arrived.
“What is this, Lainey?” I asked, inspecting the patch and finding a half-eaten strawberry. “Did you do this?”
“No,” Lainey said, and thought for a second. “!”
Lately rabbits have infested the neighborhood. We saw three of them chase each other across the neighbor’s driveway. One bunny likes to hang out under Lainey’s swingset — and he’s not shy. The cute little varmints hop around like they own the place.
“What are we going to do?” I asked. “You have to protect your strawberries!”
“A fence!” Lainey suggested.
We drove to and considered the options. Chicken wire was bundled in huge expensive rolls — overkill for a 3-foot-square garden. Another fence had lattice holes that a bunny would easily slip through. So we decided to buy the anti-bird netting; I drove back home and nearly opened its package.
“But what if the bunny gets his little feet caught in the net!” Lainey worried.
“No way,” I argued.
“Daddy, please don’t!” Lainey begged.
I sighed. “Then what do we do, Lainey?”
Lainey examined her patch again and counted the many strawberries.
“I could share my strawberries with the bunnies.” Lainey smiled.
“Are you sure?” I asked.
Lainey nodded. Then she picked three green berries off a stem and set them in the dirt.
“There,” she said. “Those three are for the bunnies.”
I suppose animals are better behaved in Lainey’s mind. Like when she set a carrot out for the , he had no problem accepting the offering. Or when she supplied dog food to or fish food to old , they feasted. I explained that wild rabbits played by their own rules, and .
“But there’s still , right?” Lainey nodded.
“Yes,” I agreed. “Plenty.”
What Lainey sometimes lacks in reason she makes up for in compassion. That’s one sweet crop of character that I just eat up.