You may think the speed of light is fast, but can it compare to how quickly a loved one grows up? One moment your offspring is taking a first breath, and the next moment, your teenager is looking at colleges. In an even quicker blink of an eye, my vegetable garden has grown up. Back in May, it was taking its first wobbly steps from seed to seedling. Now, it’s July, and I see rampant adolescence everywhere I look.
A few of the stereotypes of adolescence I’ve observed in my garden include:
- Growth spurt. Here we see that the scarlet runner beans have scooted to the tops of their climbing poles and are still reaching skyward. They say nothing, but we all know the poles I provided were not enough for their needs. Are they ever?
- Violation/testing of boundaries. Those irrepressible pumpkins keep sending their vines into forbidden territory – into the chard and beets, and onto the grassy pathways. When I gently steer the ends of the vines back into their assigned patch, the plants compensate by leaning large side leaves over the chard. Would breaking out a net to contain them be pushing parenthood too far?
- Hanging out with seedy characters. The potatoes, normally so well-behaved, are running with a bad crowd of weeds. Intervention is essential, and I might need to get violent.
- Chronic slouching. A few of the Brussels sprouts plants are too lazy to hold themselves upright. I point out that this leads to bent stem and assorted health problems with age, but they ignore me.
- Chronic loafing. Once upright and vigorous, today the onions sprawl on the ground. Meh, whatever, is their philosophy du jour. It’s just a phase. Right?
- Surly malingering. The royal burgundy bush beans should be producing results by now. Instead, they glower out from under their shaggy leaves with the stony silence of rebellion. I stare back, perplexed. What can I do to motivate them?
- Bouts of shockingly mature behaviour. Here, I rejoice in the zucchinis and vegetable marrows, which are producing with joyful abandon. I’m that proud, I could just bust.
And so I engage in behaviours common to parents of adolescents. I count my new grey hairs. I gaze wistfully at the strands that abandoned me for the bristles of the hairbrush, and I wonder why I even need a hairbrush anymore. Finally, I hum a few bars of The Circle of Life, and I carry on.