Milo sat at the table, eating his oats and fingering a seedling growing kit. It’s a charming Kiwi thing, to give out a free seeding growing kit with a $40 grocery store purchase. “You don’t know how to do this,” he taunted. “You haven’t planted before.”
I looked at him quizzically. Could my own son really not know what I do for work?
“We plant millions of plants at the greenhouse,” I said, reaching for the kit. “What’s that you’ve got?” I squinted at the little label that came with the box. “Basil?…. Or Baahhhsil?” I re-pronounced the word, realizing that he may only know the Kiwi vernacular. “We plant lots of bAYsil at work.”
“But do you plant it?” Milo was incredulous.
“Well….nnnoooo….not usually. The last thing I planted was peppers,” I admitted, “several weeks ago, for an experiment. The machine plants basil.”
Milo gave me the “I told you so” look. “A machine plants basil?” Obviously it wasn’t done with my very own fingers, so it didn’t count.
“It does,” I assured him. “These little needles that are hollow suck up the seeds from a tray with a vaccum—shlurp!” I held up my fingers and flapped my wrists in imitation of the seeding machine. “Then they spin around and dump the seeds in the tray—plop! It does it again and again, until there are three-hundred and thirty-eight seeds in a tray!” I don’t operate the machine, so “we” plant the seeds at Zealandia in the royal sense, but I felt that level of detail was unnecessary for my son’s education.
“Well, we plant these at school.” Milo was only slightly impressed by my machine impersonation. “This little thing is coconut fibre,” he said, holding up a flattened round disk. “You add water and it puffs up.”
“We have coconut fibre at work too, except it comes in big slabs, and we really don’t use it that often.” I could tell I was losing his interest.
“Am I going to see William today?” He was on to the next subject.
“No, tomorrow.” I resolved to bring home a picture of the basil growing in the greenhouse at work to prove to my son that…that what? That I do work? But I didn’t actually plant that basil, and neither did I water it, nor will I transplant it, nor take the customer orders, nor load it for dispatch. What I do is rather abstract, and I guess I don’t blame him for not understanding it.
Maybe he needs to go to work with you.
I wish I could just stand in the greenhouse and for a minute to take in the smell. That was my favourite memory of going to pick out flowers with my grandma at the local nursery. I loved how a greenhouse smelled. I’d put it up there with a newborn babies head.