It has been 18 months since our son Thomas was born. A steep learning curve for all of us; not least Thomas, who has had to learn to cope with his parents’ novice attempts to bring up a child.
Over the past 18 months, I’ve found it rather difficult to do all the normal stuff I did before, including blogging, allotmenting and gardening. The allotment has been given up, for now at least. I admire those parents who can carry on a normal life with small child in tow, being able to keep on top of everything, be well manicured, and still have time to knit their own tofu. To be honest, I wasn’t well manicured before – a good number of years of pulling ground elder and horsetail out of the allotment would have put an end to that anyway. I think I have developed a permanent small groove in my finger from pulling horsetail up – if Lamarckian evolution were true, Thomas would be a more efficient puller-up of this weed than I, already equipped with said groove.
I’ve learnt a lot over the past 18 months. Mostly about poo, it has to be said. But I won’t share those with you on this platform. What I do want to share is what I have learnt, and what Thomas has taught me, about gardening and how I view my garden. Though I note that I still write *my* garden, so perhaps I haven’t quite ceded it all to Thomas just yet…
Things I have learnt:
- That weeding whilst in charge of a toddler is difficult. You spend more time trying to persuade them to spit out stones they have put in their mouths than you spend pulling up rogue plants. And when they’ve finished chewing pebbles, they run off with your weeding tools and plonk them in the bird bath.
- That the most fun in the world to a ticklish toddler is to be whisked back and forth through the frothy heads of Stipa tenuissima. It’s such a good feeling, he even tries to tickle himself with them.
- That planting a willow wigwam in the cold November rain will be worth it when the toddler is old enough to sit still in it for more than five seconds.
- That day lilies cope remarkably well with pre-emptive dead-heading. That is, a small child pulling off the buds before they even have a chance of flowering.
- That enthusiasm for watering is more important than accuracy.
- That trying to balance a snail on an allium flower will occupy a toddler for quite some time – much more time than toys, “fun” singing time with mummy (I use the quotation marks wisely - you haven’t heard me sing…) and painting all added together. It only really ended because the snail got bored and wandered off. Slowly.
- That borders spring back remarkably well after a small child has taken to reversing into them and then sitting down.
- That plastic bulldozers can make a nice garden ‘feature’. Possibly.
- That the more you treasure a plant, the more likely it is to be sat on, have the flowers pulled off, or be flattened by aforementioned plastic bulldozer.
- That a few weeds don’t really matter, in the scheme of things.
-That a few weeds can rapidly multiply into a raging mass of weeds if you don’t keep on top of them by spending 5 minutes in the garden after bed-time (his, not mine, though there isn’t much time difference between the two at the moment).
- That bumble bees, generally, don’t mind too much if they are poked by inquisitive fingers. They may just wave an irritated middle leg, in the way that a great-aunt might shoo off her over-exuberant great-nephews and nieces.
- That the small pang of pedantry I feel when a hoverfly is described excitedly as ‘bee’ is far exceeded by the joy in watching Thomas start to name the world around him.
-That I can’t wait until he’s a little older so we can sow seeds together and share the magic of watching them grow.
When Thomas was born, I thought I was going to be the teacher, the font of knowledge. But I’ve been taught so much. Mostly, relax – it’s only a garden.