Sat | Jun 12, 2021

A supportive mother and plant enthusiast

Published:Sunday | May 9, 2021 | 12:15 AMToriann Ellis - Contributor
McConnell and her son, taking a moment for family time.
McConnell and her son, taking a moment for family time.
Stephanie McConnell and her son Fraser.
Stephanie McConnell and her son Fraser.

Renowned racecar driver Fraser McConnell.
Renowned racecar driver Fraser McConnell.
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Stephanie McConnell is a lover of motorsports; her involvement in this sport developed because of her son Fraser McConnell’s interest in go-kart driving at a tender age. Apart from being a supportive parent, she devotes her time to being a plant mom.

“My son Fraser McConnell started go-karting at around 10 years old and he pulled me to a go-kart track that I did not know existed. So it was his love of motorsports that got me to learn about it. I was never involved before that,” she recalled.

“I have been in motorsports for the last 12 years all because of him, and it has been interesting and exciting the whole time as we get to meet a lot of new people. Also, it’s because he is so passionate about the sport why I am passionate and I want to support my son in any way possible, which I guess any parent would naturally do,” McConnell added.

The mother of three stated that the sport has made him mature a lot. It has given him focus and direction. “He was not a good student at school, but because he started go-karting,. it helped him to pay attention more in his education and he also became more disciplined.”

“So, I would recommend any child to start a sport if they can. I would tell parents to encourage their children to get involved in these activities. So whether it be football, track and field, racing, or tennis, because that helps them.”

She further explained that sports are the opposite of what parents think. “We think it distracts them but the physical exercise, motivation, and the perseverance to win and to learn how to lose helps their education.”

“Extracurricular activities are a huge part of our education system and a lot of parents nowadays are so caught up in our children getting A-plus, but that’s so wrong. We need to ensure our children are well-rounded. They should do more field trips, more extracurricular activities, and fewer Primary Exit Profile and Caribbean Examinations Council exams,” she added.

“Exams are not the be-all and end-all. That’s why all my children do more extracurricular activities. I had to find out which child liked this or that activity, and focused on it.”

“As a mom, I’ve learned how important it is to support my children and to focus, because go-karting is not just about racing. It’s about mental strength, physical strength, and emotional strength. Racing really takes a lot out of you and people think it’s easy to just jump into a car and drive fast, but it requires commitment,” she said.

“I think parenting is so difficult nowadays and you learn from experience. I’m not young anymore, my kids are 21, 27 and 22 and I believe they are well-rounded adults now, because I allowed them to do not just school but many other things. Picking up garbage at the beach and giving poor children Christmas gifts instead of receiving. There are so many other ways for parenting to succeed and we just need to find fun stuff to do with our kids.”

She reported that she loves to give more than to receive. “For instance, if it’s my birthday, I don’t want a birthday present. I’m happy for a card with lovely words, but I love to give people things. I’m a giver by nature, so I give love and everything. Therefore, being kind and not expecting anything in return is a good parenting role.”

Being a plant mom

McConnell said that she is equally enthused with plants as her son is with driving. “Like my son is passionate about driving, I’m passionate about growing plants, vegetables, and orchids. I love to grow anything. Just about anything that can grow, I’m happy to plant it.”

“So, I’m literally a very down-to-earth kind of person. I get great satisfaction in growing vegetables and giving them away if I have too much. I love to do landscaping and make people’s yards look beautifully renovated,” she added.

“I feel a level of fulfilment in completing work and I love to do orchid arrangements. Then I distribute them because people get so much joy from them. I love making people happy by growing, producing, and creating.”

McConnell mentioned that, since being a member of the Orchid Society for a decade, phalaenopsis orchids are what she grows the most. She has also been a landscaper for 20 years.

Her recommendation to Jamaicans who love to plant is to get any little container that they have, whether their margarine container, ice cream buckets, or paint pan, and put holes in it. She added that persons should use dirt and some pak choi seeds or Scotch bonnet seeds from the kitchen and plant them. “You will see how quickly they grow and how exciting it is to reap more than you can use and give away to your friends. But she stated that the only way to start is to just do it.”

“I have benefitted from planting by employing people and being able to landscape residential and commercial properties, and also by selling orchids, whether it is at a plant show or to other floral arrangement companies, and by doing individual arrangements for friends and family,” she mentioned.