Yesterday we took you step by step through cutting a hedge. Little D has been transfixed by Andrew cutting the hedges for days, the clack-clack-clack of the shears and the trimmings; so fun to run through and kick in the air. At the moment we are chicken-sitting next doors poultry, and Andrew took the opportunity to cut the hedge on their side as we went round to feed them and collect the eggs. He wants to get it cut back on their side so they can get down their paths when they come back. Little D asked to help. There was that awkward moment, small child + sharp shears = A&E.
This fear lasts all of five seconds as Andrew goes into the shed and brings out the cutest topiary shears ever. It's as if he sees these small tools at car boots and squirrels them away for Little D, he won't admit it but I suspect he has tools of various sizes for our son mapped out until he reaches adulthood. He tells me that I shouldn't worry, he was carrying bricks for his Dad at that age and the shears aren't that sharp. He sits Little D down and goes through 'blunt end' - 'sharp end' talk and that like scissors he can never run with them and they must always face downwards. Now, we have to be honest, Little D loves to help in the garden but we never push him, some jobs he wants to do: harvesting the soft fruit, eating the soft fruit, stealing the soft fruit but digging, hoeing or even weeding bores him after a few minutes but cutting a hedge, all that mess and power! I can't watch, I have to leave but over an hour they cut around 150 feet of hedge. Andrew takes the top and Little D mimics at the bottom. Sometimes, common sense, patience and observation must win out. It would be worse to tell him he can't do this when even after a few minutes it's clear he's good at it. It's not like he's going to cut much with such small shears.
This is something he cottons onto fast. His shears aren't as sharp as Daddy's or as fast and Andrew isn't going to let him use them. Sometimes, according to Andrew (who captured it above) Little D uses his hands to snap the branches or even strip the leaves off but Andrew shows him, patiently that the shears must always work away from his body and that he should go at a speed he's happy with. He cottons on quick and even from the kitchen I can hear: clack-clack-clack-oooh, look at this Daddy. There is a moment where Little D feels guilty because he's accidentally cut off a fern or some ripening blackberries but Andrew is working on the principal of: small child + crooked cutting technique = it will grow back or be clean cut when he's not looking. Andrew never takes an eye off him and Little D after forty-five minutes announces he needs a Union appointed break and flops down on some garden chairs.
He comes around as Andrew brings out the lawn rake to gather up the clippings, it's not the raking that's fun but the tossing of a rake full of trimmings over the hedge into our orchard. Oh, wow! That's magical! That's fun! He helps Andrew, as if they are hoisting a flag pole, and hoots with laughter as the clippings are launched into the air. He keeps telling Andrew that they have done well, that Mummy will be happy, that the neighbour's will be happy and that the chickens are happy. He goes off to see if the chickens would like to eat a slug he's found or some blackberries. They eat the blackberries and ignore the slug. He announces that the eating of blackberries by chickens is a miracle.
He then asks for the simplest of things, a photo with the hedge he helped to cut. He's one happy boy and plans to cut the rest of the hedges with his Daddy. This is how you get kids interested in gardening by support, patience and allowing them some level of trust.