The Vegetable Garden

Sunday, June 29, 2008
The Vegetable Garden
Guest Column by Mushroom

Three kids: Cabbage, Turnip and Spuds. These are just three nicknames I gave them over the (nearly) four years I’ve been working with this children, and they’ve had many, many more. In our society it’s a sign of how fond you are of someone if they have a lot of nicknames. The aforementioned three vegetable names are just the ones I use the most.

Cabbage is almost eleven, going on fifteen. He’s a very intelligent little boy and, as with most intelligent people, it brings him more than his fair share of misery. He doesn’t get on well with the other children in his school, besides his also intelligent best friend, because he can’t relate to them. His pet topic right now is famous classical composers; theirs is Linkin Park and Fergie. He’s perked up considerably though lately because he’s going to a special camp for gifted children, where he’s going to study law. We’ve started a new game which involves comparing classical music to modern-day equivalents. (Mozart was Kanye West, Stravinsky was Slipknot, and so on.)

Turnip is a classic middle child. He’s eight going on five and he still sucks his thumb and has a security blanket. As a middle child myself I know that we never really outgrow certain habits (I still sleep with my stuffed dog and I’m twenty-five!) so I’m not worried. He’s very popular at school and he’s usually well-behaved, but like all children he has his moments. (He and Cabbage don’t get on well; Cabbage calls him names and Turnip, being the same size and about the same weight, punches him until I step in and give out stink to them both.) He’s fussy about food but only when he can get away with it (as in, when his mother’s home.)

Spuds is the baby (at least, he was when I started. He’s nearly four now!) and, given the others were school-aged when I started, the one who’s been influenced by me the most. I’m from a different part of the country than the family and I came with my own mannerisms and catchphrases and quirks, some of which I passed on to Spuds. The other day, he told his mother he had ‘a cut of the runs’ (the phrase is actually ‘a touch of the runs’) and greeted Turnip by saying ‘Hey! It’s that Turnip guy we know!’ (I’m always doing that.)

One day, as we were walking back from the school run to catch the bus, we spotted the bus before we had reached the stop. We were just about at the stop but the bus not only drove past us, but drove at high speed through a massive puddle (it was raining by the way) and drenched me in muddy water. Forgetting I had an impressionable toddler with me, I called the driver a f*****g w****r. I got the next bus, dropped Spuds to school, went back to his house to housework and picked him up a few hours later. As we were walking home, he spotted a bus driving towards us and he said to me ‘Hey, it’s that f*****g w****r!’ I managed to get him to stop saying it by the time his Mom got home. I hope.

This week sees the kids looking forward to the end of school for the summer, and me dreading it. This is my third summer with them and I’m trying to think of things we can do. My hands are tied because I don’t drive, we take the bus everywhere, or we walk. Cabbage wants to stay in his room all summer working on his models and tinkering with the piano, so going anywhere is going to put his nose severely out of joint. We’ve been to the Natural History Museum so many times we know all the animals off by heart, and the last time we visited the National Museum Spuds got scared by the mummies and screamed for the whole trip. Only Cabbage likes the Art Gallery and he hated the Interactive Play Centre and I’ll be shot out of a cannon before we go back to the Shopping Centre. I’d like to bring them to the beach but the train and buses take too long to go there and back, and I need a car to get to the zoo.

At home, I’ve got art projects, treasure hunts and rainy-day DVDs lined up, but past experience has taught me that these only last so long. At least the family are going on holiday abroad, which gives me two whole weeks to think of something new and exciting to do with them. Or maybe I could build them a pen in the backyard and let them run free, as nature intended. (Free-range children-good idea?)


Anonymous said...

Seems to me that you should plant a garden.

Anonymous said...


UmassSlytherin said...

This made me so hungry.

seattlenanny said...

My little three year old is forever picking up on my habits. A few months ago she was working on this puzzle and started making a sound with her mouth when she was concentrating. It's the same sound I make when I'm concentrating hard, oh sheesh. Just last week she said to her brother "walk away" when he was bothering her. This is the exact same thing I say, she even said it in the same tone I say it. Oh my goodness, I think I'm turning into my mother. YIKES!

Thanks for the entertaining story OP! Good luck with this summer.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious what the w word is? What does it rhyme with?

Anonymous said...

I assumed it was "wanker"

Anonymous said...

My guess was that w****r rhymes with pigger.

Or, rhymes with an even more offensive term. Good thing THAT wasn't said in front of the little boy!

chick said...

I believe the "w" word would rhyme nicely with "hanker", "canker", or "ranker".

Interesting column. I would consider lots of water play, because veggies generally need water and sun to flourish. I hope your need for a dark and damp environment doesn't mean the little veggies will mildew this year?

You might also consider going organic with any nutrients given your sprouts, since organic is "hawt" these days!

Anonymous said...

I don't think "wanker" is such a bad word in the U.S., but in the UK, I think some would be offended if they were called one .....
I think it's a part of a males anatomy.
Somebody correct me if I'm wrong.

Anonymous said...

Kind of like the word that rhymes with "rock"?
Anybody here from the UK?

Anonymous said...

or tanker, or banker, or danker? lol

Anonymous said...

Ask for cab fare if it is too far by bus. There has got to be so many things to do in thta city. Zoo ,great America or something similar.
Wanker is the male anatomy LOL

chick said...

Actually, I think calling someone a wanker means you are implying they spend a lot of time...wanking.

Practicing autoeroticism.

cali mom said...

Correct, Chick.

Yes OP, cab fare would be a perfectly reasonable request. Could the kids each take some sort of summer class or go to daycamp for a portion of the summer?

Anonymous said...

Why don't you put cabbage to work and ask him to create something special for the other kids... even if its a rocket ship.

I loved this story it was just adorable.

Anonymous said...

i dont get this post.

lorenza said...

Great tale, OP!

mom said...

Nice story.
Reminds me of the time my bro in law called another driver a "f***ing idiot" in front of his two-and-some-months-old son. The child immediatley began saying it over and over, like a parrot... which made my sis in law pretty mad at her hubby...which she let him know in no uncertain terms. Thinking he might undo the deed, my bro in law began dramatically calling all of the other drivers "jumping idiots" as they passed by. He made a big point of saying it loudly, laughing, and asking his toddler to join him in taking note of all the "jumping idiots" as they passed by. The child sat silently. Finally, as they were almost home, daddy began really encouraging his boy to say "jumping idiot." Confused, the liitle guy finally asked, "You mean the f***ing guy?"

mpp said...

Things kids say, huh? How f***ing hilarious! lol

I don't know if I've told this story or not.
But when my son was around 3 y.o., we were trying to teach him the whole manners bit .... please, thank you, how to share, patience, etc.

Anyway, he was waiting for his turn at a game, and started to get impatient. I knelt down to him and said that he needed to relax, his turn was coming .... and he kind of rolled his eyes up, smiled and said, "I know, patience is a virgin!"

Ah, so cute!

mom said...

MPP Yes, I remember this story! Wasn't it somewhere sort of public too? Like maybe a waiting room?

It might be fun to get some sort of thread going where we all write in funny things kids said? I love funny kid moments. teay are so priceless!

Do you think Jane would mind if you started something like that on here in her absence?

Nanny of 21 YEARS said...

Out of the mouths of babes right? I was watching my niece who was 4 at the time and she started talking at 1 so by 4 she was very verbal lol. She told me one day O M G and had me cracking up and she sighed dramatically and told me "I know what it means Oh My God!" Then started laughing and saying I was silly for finding it so funny.