A Proud Parent

Parenting and gardening are similar.

Your young charges can flourish and sometimes they flop. But we care and love them the same whatever happens.  Occasionally, often out of the blue, they make you proud. Really. They do. 

I was doing my dad type duties and helping with our youngest's homework. Year 7 shouldn't be too taxing but I'll tell you what, those guys in school are working hard. I like the 'make a model of the Amazon' type stuff – real coffee beans glued into place got extra credits - and Tudor history is quite interesting.  My joke of finding ' x ' in his maths homework – 'there it is' and pointing at it – is wearing as thin as my hair.

So when it came to biology, and in particular plant biology, I relaxed, settled down and waited to dispense my years of knowledge in his direction. I have to admit to having studied the science of plants for a bit so I should know the basics. 

plant fertilisation


'Dad? Can you help with my homework?' 

'Why of course,' I replied, smugness washing over me like a warm wave in the Indian Ocean. 'Hit me with it.'

'We had a test and I have to re-do the questions I didn't do well on.'

'Sounds good,' snuggling myself into the sofa cushions, years of horticultural experience welling up inside. 

'I need to know what happens when fertilisation occurs in a flower.' 

After 10 minutes of what can only be described as a mighty fine explanation of pollen tubes, ovules and plant hormones, he seemed satisfied. 

'Thanks. That's it.'

'It?'

'Homework done.’ 

'Oh. OK. Have you got the test paper for me to read through?' ever the keen parent to support home study wherever possible unless it involves finding 'the value of y when e = 4, L = the length of the longest side of the triangle and Jim has two ice creams worth £1.20 but Dotty has a sausage roll and only a fiver so who owns the blue car?' type of maths question. The paper - completed and marked- was handed over as he went to translate 'the cat sat on the mat' into Spanish (El gato se sentó en la alfombra. I think you'll find that 'Dos cervezas por favor' is in order for that answer).

I read through it. Then one question leapt out and a tear came to my eye. 

'What else, other than water and sunlight, does a plant need to grow?'

I read his answer. An answer that his teacher apparently had to check up on. My young gardening assistant had put mychorrizal fungi. Beautiful. I go on and on about the stuff and at least I now know he is listening. He might be the only one but one is more than none. He even explained it simply: 'You get bigger roots and you put it on like dust'. Superb. Can't argue with that. A* pupil.

However, I had to pick him up on his spelling. 'Mikeorizer' is not how you spell it, young man. But hey, top marks. That made me proud. Really proud. It's got to be better than finding x. Whatever x is and wherever it lives.