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The garden’s got to go

February 29th, 2004 · No Comments

When a parent describes a child as “mobile”, that usually means the kid can move: roll, crawl, scoot, toddle, walk, run. This weekend I realized that mobility has a different meaning when the girls are playing in the yard with their outside toys.

Abigail has had a bike for a while. She has moved into a larger one and now Michaela has Abigail’s old one. Michaela wants to ride a bike but she’s still figuring out how to make the pedals work. Downhill she can do it but any uphill slope she’s stuck.

Baby Sister Elisabeth, eager to be included, wants to play with the girls’ toy car. It’s Flintstone style, with a steering wheel, so she can sit in the seat and her feet push on the ground to make it move. It also has a sliding sun roof and doors. Plus trunk space. Not bad for a toddler car.

While the girls played outside with their toys, I would weed the garden. This weekend though I realized that that was Another Era. That was before Elisabeth became mobile. Before she could walk. And before she could scoot a plastic car around the driveway. This was also before Michaela had a bike.

Abigail can get herself around, driving circles on the driveway. So one kid can take care of herself on a bike. But that leaves two other kids who don’t know what to do. Two kids with wheels who can’t brake.

Michaela wants my help all the time. She needs me to push her and teach her the pedaling. If she goes down the driveway, she can’t stop.

Elisabeth’s happy backing the car. Too happy. With a big smile on her face, the car begins moving off of the driveway. It rolls onto the yard. It rolls downhill and backwards into the neighbor’s yard. All the while Elisabeth laughs, showing her big baby teeth. I have to run to rescue her.

Saturday was a sunny day and I wanted to get rid of some weeds. I wanted to get out my tools and knee pad. I wanted to bend down and pull some plants up.

With three mobile children, two of them unable to control their wheels, I won’t be able to weed. It’s not as if the yard is going to win any landscaping contests with or without weeds. And I’m not fond of it. I fantasize about ripping up sections, replacing the sod, clay and weeds with dark organic soil and native plants. But now without my attention, the weeds will only multiply. The garden is going.

Then again as I watch Elisabeth rolling backwards onto our yard, careening downhill, laughing and smiling, I realize that any landscaping would meet its destiny beneath the black plastic wheels of her car. Why spend the time and energy if it will only be run over? The way our girls play, most plants won’t survive.

I’d rather let them laugh. Let them practice braking without breaking fancy foliage. Elisabeth’s delight defines my priorities: weeding loses out to wee ones.

Yes, it seems clear, any way I think about it: the garden’s got to go.

Tags: gardening