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Plants as allies

There is nothing quite as satisfying as seeing your child confidently know what is safe to eat out in nature. I have been showing my son what is safe to eat since the young age of 1. He has been so keen ever since to snack on the greenery surrounding him. He knows which ones are safe to eat and which ones to stay away from. His favourite at the moment is wild sorrel. He can find it anywhere...even when they’re teeny tiny! I’ve taught him not to eat from public parks and to always check in and show me before he eats something, especially away from home.

We have many herbs and “weeds” growing around us on the farm where we live, and it is just so fun to watch him nibble literally all day long on greens. I can feel the joy and excitement he exudes when discovering a new patch of something he likes. I’ve also always taught him what the plants are good for. Some can help you feel relaxed, like chamomile. Some can help with digestion, like dandelion greens. Some can help stop the bleeding of a cut, like yarrow. And some can take the sting away after wasp stings, like plantain. Children can learn to have the natural world as their ally.

One potent moment in my son’s herbal journey was the summer we had first weaned. He was 2.5 years old. We were playing outside in the garden when he got stung by a wasp on the finger. He was screaming and crying so hard. Up until this day, he would usually ask for the boob for comfort. So as I started walking over to him to snuggle him and care for him, I heard him shout through his tears “Plantain! Plantain!” I was so surprised and astonished he wasn’t asking for the boob at all! “Oh my little darling, you’re right! Plantain is what you need! “ I grabbed him a few big leaves of plantain..and through his deep sobs he started to chew up the plantain leaf really well, mixing it with his spit, and made himself a spit poultice . He applied the green mush to his sting and snuggled into my lap, still crying but more calm. This was such a big moment for him and his growth. It was the first time he cared for himself, without turning to me right away. I was so proud in this moment and recognized he had just stepped over a little threshold of independence, being able to lean into and trust that something other than me could help soothe him. This was big. And it really warmed my heart to know, that it was plant medicine that could support him in this way.

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