70 / An Act Of Rebellion


Hi, Welcome to For F*ture’s Sake! A half-assed attempt to live sanely on planet earth.

Reading time: 2 minutes

The side gate was open while my kids played alone in the back garden. Now and again, drunken St. Patrick’s Day revellers passed by — I could hear them shouting and roaring from the attic. 

It occurred to me — more than once — I should go down and shut the gate. But I was distracted. And if I’m being honest, feeling lazy too. There’s nothing like a flight of stairs to delay addressing a non-urgent task.

Then a voice outside pricked my ears and my stomach did a flip. It was the seven-year-old. I could have sworn he said, “man get out.” 

Then came the shout. "MAN. GET. OUT!” 

I dropped everything but the hammer and charged downstairs.

I burst open the back door and rushed out, panting onto the porch.

My son was standing with his back to me, arms outstretched. He was shoving a packet of seeds into his little brother's face — far too close for him to able to read the label.

"It says man get out!" he chuckled, completely unaware of my presence and dramatic entrance. They were too absorbed in play — in stitches of laughter.

I closed my eyes for a second, breathed a massive sigh of relief, before leaning in and snatching the packet of seeds from him.

"For fuck’s sake lads,” I said. “It’s pronounced mangetout!

We haven’t gotten around to sowing the mangetout yet. I’m still too traumatised to look at them. Plus, I think it might still be a little early. But the kids have helped me propagate others — peas, radishes, lettuce and a few other bits and pieces.

They’re really into the process — and even though they’ve come close to knocking everything onto the ground once or twice — they’re better than me at remembering to water them.

For a child, watching a seed germinate is a wonderful thing. It might be the best education a young person could wish for — especially suburbanites like mine.

Busy parents make kids busy.

Pre-pandemic at least — when everything was open — my kids were involved in activities galore. Swimming on Mondays, football on Tuesdays, chess on Wednesdays, and so on. Too often, as parents, we try to teach, or expose our children to so much, nothing makes a lasting impression.

I now believe, an interest in one, simple, living “problem;” that is physically close to a child’s life, is better than any other activity modernity can offer.

And yet, it’s not to “teach” them anything per se. Children are not conscious they’re receiving any benefit from the act of growing plants. Nonetheless, their very presence has an influence that will, undoubtedly, resonate for the rest of their lives.

For starters, it builds resilience .

It’s also an act of rebellion. Self-sufficiency allows for the proverbial sticking your middle finger up to the agro-industrial complex, which — if I ever get that far — I’ll find very satisfying indeed.

Furthermore, it gets them outside. It expands their horizons. It gives them responsibility for other living things. It increases their hold on, and appreciation for life, and much more besides.

To grow a plant is to come into intimate contact with nature. It allows a child say with pride, “I dropped a seed into the earth, it grew and the plant was mine.”

Until next week, S