Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Another One Bites the Dust

A misconception, that is. See, I had it in my head that this spring/summer would be so different and much easier than last summer, in regards to yard work and gardening. Last spring, little Miss Liesl wasn't hard to supervise while Tom and I worked at weeding, prepping, planting, pruning, etc. the flower beds and veggie gardens in our yard. The tough part was sweet little Ava: being a little baby, she was into everything, put everything into her mouth, was crawling and was less aware of boundaries. It pretty much wound up that Tom did everything in the yard and gardens last season while the kids and I watched. So I told myself that it would be easier this year, because Ava would be walking and more aware of boundaries, and Liesl can pretty much be trusted to be safe in the yard as long as she is within shouting distance.

Well, all of those things are true. Ava has been walking steadily for 8 months and has become much more responsive to being told what to do/not do. (Sometimes her response is to collapse in a heap on the lawn and scream like a hyena with a megaphone, but still.) Liesl occationaly takes time out from the standard 3 year-old refrains of "NO!" and "Why?" to mind us, and is relatively easy to keep an eye on while she plays in the sandbox and with other toys.

But I forgot one very important aspect of parenting: The kids want to do everything that you do.

So, upon one of my first attempts at gardening without Tom, while simultaneously supervising the kids, I learned that my bucket of sharp, dirty hand tools is totally irresistible. And what on earth was I doing? Well, according to the clumsy but endearing mimicking of my daughters, I was constantly tugging on plants. And there is no rhyme or reason whatsoever about which plants should be tugged and which should not be tugged--according to my little blond cherubs, all of those offensive green suckers must die.

After it dawned on me that I was not going to be nearly as productive as I thought, I rummaged around in their sandbox and made "copies" of my bucket of tools: A plastic bucket for each of them, each containing a toy trowel and a hand rake of some sort. After endless discussion about who should get the red trowel (Liesl) and who should get the green trowel (Ava), I set back to work on weeding the patio perennial bed:

"Mommy, what are you doing?"
"I'm weeding the garden, honey."
"Because it makes our garden look nicer."
"What's weeding?"
"I'm pulling out plants that we don't want, so they don't choke out the plants that we do want."
"Because that's what we're supposed to do." (My standard response when I have heard 1,000 too many "why's" in a day.)
"Oh, ok. Is this a weed?"
"No, honey, that was a Shasta Daisy. We don't pull the Shasta Daisies."
"Because those are the good plants."
"The 'shaffa' daisies are good plants? They don't get a Naughty Time?"
"No, honey, plants don't get Naughty Times like little girls do."

In the meantime, Ava--who is on the other side of me, naturally; these kids have figured out how to maximise their numerical advantage by causing mischief at the same time in different places, so I can't nail them both at once--has discovered how much fun it is to pull weeds. Trouble is, can you describe to an 18 month-old the difference between a weed and a "shaffa" daisy? (That was a rhetorical question, but the answer is "no." Well, you can, which I did, but it made almost no difference.)

Why do I keep kidding myself about things getting easier as the kids get older? Sure, some things do get easier, but the challenges keep mounting up as well. You'd think it would even out, wouldn't you? But no, for every task that gets easier, there are two more challenges mounting up as well. Whoever told me while I was pregnant with Ava that the work multiplies in a horrifically disproportionate rate with each new child that is born was maddeningly right.

And yet, as much as it was difficult to get anything done in the garden on Sunday morning, it was still more than I was able to get done last year. And in the process, I have watched my pretty children take in lots of sun, fresh air, and a healthy respect for gardening. Learning is fun. Whoever said learning was easy--on the learner or the learnee, as it were? But learning is still very fun.

(In the meantime...there's still a heckova lot more weeds out there, and a few less shaffa daisies.)

Ava now takes most meals at the dinner table with us...

...including dessert--frozen blueberries.

Sharing a book break in Ava's rocking chair. Notice they're both reading to their teddy bears.

1 comment:

Amy said...

What you need to do is start ANOTHER garden patch, this one completely for the girls. And the ONLY thing you plant in it is weeds. That way they can pull every single offensive green thing to their hearts' content.