I am not a gardener. I can grow things in pots to beat the band, but an actual garden is beyond my experience/capability/attention span. And this is one area in which I am in no danger whatsoever of becoming my mom. She loves to garden, and she spends a great deal of time planting, seeding, researching, mulching. She spent my entire childhood trying to tame the wild undergrowth on the bank in her backyard. A few years and a backhoe later, she has the garden of her dreams. And a knee that needs replacing. That’s a bad combo, if you didn’t already know.
Last week she asked me if I’d like to come help her “get some weeding done” and get the plants to bed before the first frost. She’s not as fast as she used to be, and there are some things she just can’t do right now with her bum knee. I would rather stick a garden rake in my eye than tend my own garden, but of course I was happy to help her out. There’s just one complication: Mr. Squish.
Where I go, Squish must follow. Sounds like it would be no problem at all. Small child, large fenced yard, what’s the issue? If he was an ordinary youngster, he might play happily while I worked. Ordinary, he is not. Creative and with a nose for trouble, he is. Throw a cocker spaniel with barely two brain cells to rub together into the mix, and you’ve got yourself some fun.
Mom had an appointment, so she showed me where to start and left me to my work. The first ten minutes were fine. I did the rough work with her claw, the most amazing tool ever found on a late-night infomercial. A few twists, and the top soil and mulch are loosened, weeds are yanked up like so much spaghetti. Fabulous. I look up, and Squish is nowhere to be seen. The next few minutes go something like this:
Scream loudly for small child.
Locate him indoors playing with the remote control.
Bring him out of doors.
Remove can of insect spray from his hands.
Place small child in pebbles with toy dump truck.
Remove pebbles that he has buried in the very, very bottom of the raised vegetable garden.
Begin to hand-weed a tricky patch on hands and knees.
Remove skunk-breathed dog from face, repeatedly. Attempt to convince her I do not wish to give her a kiss.
Come up for air.
Return to hands and knees and commence to weed.
Feel sudden weight on back as small child becomes “baby gorilla” and asks for a ride.
Crawl to compost barrel to dump weeds, so as not to disturb baby gorilla perched between shoulder blades.
Remove skunk-breathed dog from face.
Remove child from back and take him back to the rocks to play.
Hear child say “I have a rock for you, Mommy!”
Notice sudden movement out of the corner of eye and move just in time to avoid small child slam-dunking rock the size of a dessert plate directly on my head.
Curl into fetal position.
Scream at skunk-breathed dog to get out of my ever-lovin’ face and beg child to quit bouncing on my kidneys.
That was all before Squish discovered that the five foot retaining wall is an easy climb.
And Mom wonders why I didn’t get much done. I think I remember why I don’t garden.