I clutch onto the little paper bag in one hand. The other is holding Clarabel’s pudgy, soft fingers.
We’re on our way to the vegetable patch. In the bag are various seeds for cos lettuce, zucchini, tomato, pumpkin and sweet potato. That should be enough to keep her interested.
‘Wherz da patch, Mumma?’ asks Clarabel. At two, her vocabulary is growing. Her little voice sounds high and sweet to my ears. I could listen to her all day.
‘Just here, sweety-pie.’ I point to the planter box that Ed made over the weekend. It’s as tall as Clarabel, so I lift her onto the side palings. The soil smells pungent, rich.
‘Poo, Mumma.’ She places her fingers over her nose. ‘I smell da poos.’
‘Yes, there’s manure in the soil, to make our vegies grow big and strong.’
Her eyelids flutter gently, then close. Her little face screws up tight and she folds her arms over her chest. ‘Not eating poo, Mumma.’
She wriggles herself off the edge of the planter box and stomps away.
Holding back a giggle—she is overly dramatic at the best of times—I walk to where she’s standing, by the sunflowers, which tower over her. I place my hand on her shoulder, and slowly turn her to face me.
‘Clarabel. It’s part of the soil. Makes our food grow. Helps them to be healthy so we can be healthy when we eat our veggies.’ I crouch down, so my eyes are level with hers. ‘Mumma would never give you anything that would harm you, sweetie-pie. OK?’
My hands are on her waist. She nods, and again I’m overwhelmed at the level of trust children have in their parents. Her arms snake around my neck as she crawls in for a hug. The similarity of what we’re doing here and my role to her, as a mum, is not lost on me. The foundations for growth have to be rich in nutrients. There is much time to invest in cultivating, watering, pruning, watching. The disappointment when there’s no yield; the pride when there is.
Tears well in my eyes. She’s such a gift. ‘Mumma loves you so much.’
‘Wuv you too Mumma.’