Becoming a 19 year-old father of four
When I was first told the news, I’ll admit it, I could not have been more nervous. Sitting on the phone in my freshman dorm room, I was at a loss for words; I had no idea how to respond. My silence was met with a follow up question, “Is that going to be ok with you?” I had never been tasked with the responsibility of keeping something else alive before, but, after all, I was in the middle of a job interview and if I was going to have to grow plants for work, I was going to have to learn to be ok with it.
Having just moved to a small studio apartment in San Francisco, I knew my options were really limited when having kids, they would never be spoiled with things like an outdoor growing habitat, abundant natural sunlight, or friendly little critters likes bees and worms to help them along. So I would need children who were more than content with what I could give them: a deluxe place on my windowsill (even there, they would only get about two or three hours of sunlight per day, while a building isn’t in the way). To be honest, I really had no idea that a plant with so little necessities even existed since the hardest part about being a parent is that a child always needs something. Looking online also provided very little help because every article these days only teaches you how to helicopter your children. Back when I was growing up, a bag of dirt with the word “fertilizer” on it seemed good enough for my dad to grow his garden. Yet, the internet led me to believe that I would be a monster for not finding the perfect, gmo-free, ph-balance perfected soil that always seemed to cost way too much money. Then it hit me; I can’t even remember to take my gummy vitamins every day, how am I going to remember to water this plant?
On my first day of work, my boss asked me what type of plant I wanted to grow. Little did she know, I was getting cold feet about becoming a father, so I just tried to prolong the beginning of my new journey and said “uhhh I’m not really sure yet. I’m going to need a little more time to decide”. But of course, she actually had some mexican sunflower seeds laying around and suggested I just grow those. I might’ve had these children, specifically, by accident, but these flowers didn’t need much light, and more than one can be grown in a single pot, so I really did find the best match that I was going to. So, in went babies Barry, Pat, Susan, and Phil into their new geopot homes.
Since I did read all of those parenting articles online, I actually did have a moment where I thought I was well prepared, but nothing can prepare you for that initial waiting period. You know, that period of time when you’ve done everything you can to foster your babies– you give them all the necessary vitamins, you make sure they’re being fed (water) regularly, heck, you even tried playing music for them– but you can only really wait for biology to do its thing. For me, this period was a time of doubt; did I water them enough? Maybe too much? Are they getting enough sunlight? It was a lot of stress, just waiting for these plants to germinate.
Ready to wait maybe three weeks for my first sprout to appear, I was pleasantly surprised to wake up three days after planting and be greeted by baby phil, just barely peeking out of the dirt. I would clearly be lying if I said that I had known the had known the whole time that I knew I’d see my babies start to grow. So the realization that I did that, that I gave life to something else was crazy. I was overjoyed to know that I made it over the initial hump, I felt like I could actually do this. Later that day, his sister, Susan, also came into the world. In the other pot, however, there was not yet any sign of Pat or Barry.
They say parenting gets easier as you have more children, and, using an app called Smart Yields, coupled with soil moisture tags , I had an abundance of data about my plants, even after only a few days. Worried about my two plants that had not yet been born, I used the data to immediately realize that Susan and Phil were getting significantly more water in their pot than Pat and Barry were getting in their’s. This was the moment when I first realized that my plants are my babies. With technology at my disposal, my plants are able to virtually cry through my iPhone whenever they are hungry or thirsty. In reality, I am not going into fatherhood alone, the children that I have are helping me help them and they know better than anyone what they need.
It’s still crazy that I am responsible for living things that need regular care. When I tell people my age that I have my own plants, they immediately believe that I’m talking about succulents, the plants to grow when you don’t want to actually grow plants (sorry, succulents fans). But honestly, despite my initial nerves, being a parent is a very rewarding experience. Nothing is more gratifying than watching something grow and knowing that you’re the reason why. Every time I find myself talking to another plant enthusiast, I always end up going on and on about all of my childrens’ achievements, like Phil grew four inches last week, or Pat has started to flower. By far the best part is, though, that I am constantly learning how I can become a better parent by using the technology I have available to me. With all the knowledge I have gained from my first quadruplets, I can’t wait for more children to come!
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