I was crouching down weeding with my 5-year-old playing alongside me when I realised that I was geeking and gardening at the same time.
“See this l-o-n-g root here,” I said, holding up a stringy root as long as my arm that I’d just prised from the garden. “It’s a taproot. The plant sends it down, down, down deep into the ground to look for water.”
Mini-geeky gardener looked up from her digging stick, walked over and peered at the root.
“A taproot?” she said, taking it from my hand. “Tap, tap, tap,” as she wiggled it in the air.
Time to ramp up the lesson.
“See how different it is to these other roots,” as I pointed to some wispy lateral roots.
I plucked another weed.
“This one sends out runners. They run along the ground. Can you see?”
Time for the oldest parenting trick in the book.
“Let’s see who can find the weed with the longest taproot.”
That’s how we began scrambling in the dirt together on a lazy afternoon. Needless to say, I let her win. I want her to come back and play the game another day.
I have a precious few years before she sees through my ruse and refuses to help me weed.
In the meantime, she’ll follow me round like a shadow, getting dirt under her nails and picking up words like tap root.
A few days later, she treated me with this pic:
She explained the princess in the garden with the tree, the grass and the pretty flowers much like any 5-year-old.
“Tell me about this,” I say, pointing to the brown layer at the bottom of the picture.
“Mummeee, that’s dirt! Under the grass.”
That’s my girl.