It’s a sad end to a very short-lived era

Life on the allotment with Sheena Grant

THE dream is over. Reality has finally kicked in.

After eight months of playing along with my little romantic fantasies of the Good Life, trotting along (almost uncomplainingly) to the allotment, spade in hand ready to do a spot of weeding, digging or, more often than not, creating a washing line out of bamboo canes and garden string, the four-year-old has made a stand.

He refuses to go to the allotment – ever again.

I can pinpoint the moment his resistance set in.

It was as we tidied up the fruit cage. He began by helping but very soon had enough.

“This is boring,” he wailed. “When are we going?”

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I managed to distract him with a watering can, a trowel and a flowerpot with which to make mud pies but it was only ever going to be a short-term solution.

The next week was a visit too far: a particularly fraught session of seed planting and general allotment husbandry began with the “I’m bored” refrain and very quickly escalated into: “I’m never coming to the allotment again.”

I was tempted to resist his protestations at first but then I thought, what’s the point? There would be no more certain way to turn him off gardening for life and that’s exactly the opposite of what I intended.

All the same I was a bit sad.

My dreams of teaching my son about food, sharing the growing and eating of it with him and watching him grow up surrounded by nature, free from the pernicious influence of television and computer games had taken a severe knock.

There’s really no point in having romantic notions about anything, I mused, a lesson I really should have learned by now but am somehow still failing to grasp. Why can’t life be more like an episode of Little House on the Prairie?

The soilmate told me not to be downcast. She’d seen it all before.

Other friends had tried to interest their children in allotment life, lulled by the same ideas of utopia. They too had failed, sometimes even more spectacularly than me. At least the four-year-old had stuck with it for several months.

It was a small crumb of comfort.

On the plus side trying to get all the jobs done that have to be done might be a tad easier from now on, without the never-ending task of trying to entertain a small child, although it is only a small plus.

But all is not totally lost. He decided to help me with a bit of digging in the garden at home a few days later.

“I do still like gardening,” he told me. “It’s just that I like doing it at home, not at the allotment.”

“Why’s that then,” I asked.

“I don’t really know,” he replied, before putting down his spade and going off to play with some of his toys. “I’ll be back in a minute to help,” he added. “I just need a break.”

I think I know where he’s coming from. After all, too much of a good thing can be hard to handle for a grown adult, let alone a four-year-old.