Think of the Children!

Well, it’s a dramatic enough title, for a dramatic enough day in world history.

I’m really not going to go on about my personal feelings regarding the US election. I’m pretty sure that anyone who reads these blog entries will know which side of the debate I stand firmly behind, and frankly, there have been enough dissections. We know.

But what I didn’t know, this morning, was what I would be telling my children. It’s nice, here in the UK, that I technically had the luxury of not telling them at all. But then, America is a very big, rather influential country, and children hear the news no matter what we do as parents (school is handy that way), so I reasoned I really ought to tackle it somehow.

They’re young, and easily crushed. The fact that my son’s initial reaction was “Oh, we’re doomed then. XX at school says that it will mean World War 3,” was not encouraging. Time for an extended metaphor…

Recently, it was Halloween. (You may or may not remember this.) For the first time, I decided we’d carve pumpkins, and like the over-enthusiastic amateur I am, I bought three of the dratted things, and kept all the seeds with the (rather excessively optimistic) intention of roasting them at some point. When that didn’t happen immediately, I spread them all out on a baking tray to dry, vaguely thinking they might want to plant a few.

A day or so later, I noticed that one of the seeds had a little white bit poking out of it. Hot damn, I thought. The thing’s actually sprouted! In November! Possibly I should have thrown it away. Instead, I planted it in a pot and left it in the kitchen, adding a second early sprout when I saw that it wasn’t alone.

Look at those little sprouts go!

There they are. I took the photo just before sitting down to write this. Pumpkin plants, sprouting over winter. If they’d sprouted outside, they would die. It’s the wrong time for pumpkins, after all. You don’t plant them until the warm weather comes back. And maybe I shouldn’t have tried to save those two little sprouting seeds. After all, what’s the point? The odds of them actually growing into something which could flower and produce fruit are so tiny. It will be winter when they get big enough that they really ought to be planted outside.

It would be easy to give up in the face of such odds. To say it isn’t worth it. That it’ll be too difficult to keep them. They’ll need bigger pots, more compost, and I don’t even have a garden! Where will they be planted when (if) the time comes?

But there they are, green and growing, in spite of the time of year. And I know that, if I look after them – if I water them, and feed them, and work to overcome the obstacles – they’ll survive. Even with the seasons stacked against them, care will win over neglect.

So what I told my children this morning is that sometimes, things can seem hopeless. Sometimes, the world can seem like it’s set us up to fail. That everything is going wrong. But as long as people care, there is hope. And one day winter will end, and on the other side we’ll find the spring.

(And Nanny has a big garden, so when it gets warm we can try planting them there.)