Friday, June 3, 2011


My neighbor Sam had been urging me for weeks now.  "You should plant some vegetables to allow your boy to watch things that grow".  She obviously had no idea what a ten year old boy's bathroom looks like.

But they say it takes a village to raise a child so I heed her advice and add a new item on my to do list until it too, grew too long to ignore.  Today, the sun shined in a way that says, any more of my rays you'd be too late for plantings.  That bossy attitude scared away the winds and most of the clouds too. With the school year ending my volunteer work had slowed down so significantly that I spent some time today wondering whether the universe had nothing better to do than to conspire against my aversion to plantings.

Not that I had anything against things that grow.  Besides the boy and the rabbit, I have some nice low maintenance cacti and two rose bushes, both of which are blooming.  They hardly attract any insects, and if I forgot to water them for a while, they'd stay ok albeit a bit more bare boned.  They fill a niche in my absent minded gardener's heart and busy do nothing life.

Once I had a large quarter acre garden behind the too giant house I bought because it was foreclosed at an incredible deal.  As I had not much else to my name such as wisdom or experience, I threw my might into a passion for plants.  I bought everything that looked attractive in the home depot garden section, without realizing the amount of things that had to be done after the initial plantings.  I didn't learn my lessons when they died either, I masked my "grief" for their passing with more fresh, blooming and thriving plants.  After all, even those garden experts on TV said "when one plant doesn't work, it may not be suitable for that region. Go ahead and try another".  But after several years of trying, I still looked out my large bay windows to a yard given in to weeds, dry branches and shriveled plants. 

I read many gardening books, the instruction manuals for botanical enthusiasts. But like cookbooks, the variables are too numerous. I didn't realize I belonged to zone 7 or perhaps 8, may or may not have rocky soil but definitely not sandy.   The red clay that's been baked under the desert sun for centuries under our garden barely, if at all, qualify for the term "soil" in my book.  Water simply sat on it for hours at a time, slow drip or a fast down pour makes absolute no difference, despite the amount I learned about watering in the gardener's bibles.

But perhaps that was good practice after all.  I learned to stick with cacti and fewer things.  After I moved into a place with a matchbox sized patio the temptation to plant the garden of Eden in my backyard faded overtime.  Time taught me in more ways than one that this downsizing was all for the best.

Eventually I had a chance to grow a boy.  My distress over having to depart the hospital after three days lasted years.  Imagine my shock when they wouldn't even give me any instruction manuals or gardening or growing books, for boys, that is.  I knew the mothering thing would get harder without the nurses bringing him to me at the right time for feeding and took care of almost everything else.  I didn't enjoy finding out how much.

I guess the fact he survived, with piles growing in his bathroom and all, and thrived in a certain sense is all by God's grace and his own sturdiness despite of my recorded inabilities.  Maybe that is what life is all about, when you thought you'd succeed at something easy, you fail at it miserably.  Then when you thought nothing of yourself as you take on a huge challenge, you scrap by sort of OK long enough until you start to think you might make it after all.  Learning about absent mindedness gave me an insight into both raising a child and other things that lived in dirt.  Some call it pick your battles, I call it squint and think thrice. That and focus, suppose I had tried to grow several dozens at once like I tried in my garden?  I shudder at the thought.

So I shuffle over to the garden store and pick up enough seedling packs to fill the two large flower pots we have on the patio.  I watch the boy splash enough dirt to re-purpose the patio as an obstacle course, thinking how messy this whole growing business gets.

And how it makes a splash.  With garden hose rainbows and little boy giggles, with dirt and worms, with thorns and horns, with bugs and loves, with things that grow.


  1. Love this post!

    I grew a boy too!

  2. This is great! I smiled all the way through reading : )

  3. Wonderful analogy. Looks like your seedling is doing just fine.

  4. I always thought there should be a parenting manual handed out in the hospital along with wrist I.D., anesthetic and infant seat regulations, but no such luck! Much like gardening, I've found parenting is often a trial-and-error process. Fortunately our children manage to survive better than some of our plants! LOL! Great analogy here. :)

  5. Lovely story! I love what you said about how we succeed at the harder things sometimes:) Great analogy!

  6. This makes me want to walk to my garden and stick my hands in the moist gooey soil. And that's really saying something because I've never liked getting my hands dirty.

  7. Thank goodness children are sturdy! They seem to thrive in whatever climate and location they find themselves. They love what you do because you are home.

    I never felt like I knew what I was doing with my kids. My oldest used to say to people, "I'm an experiment." Soberly and seriously. We got some strange looks.

  8. I felt the same way when I left the hospital with my little man. What now? I like you "squint and think thrice" philosophy. I have to force myself to pause.
    Like gardening, it takes a lot of patience and nurturing to grow a human being. We're lucky that children are much hardier than most garden variety flora! ;)




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