FILED IN: Parenting

Dirty Hands, Smart Mouth

I come from a long line of agriculturists — my father was a landscaper, my grandfather and both my great-grandfathers were master gardeners to noble families in Europe – and I often tell my children that gardening is in their blood.

"Ewww, get it out!"

My 10-year-old son has this habit of taking things literally, lately.

“Seriously, our family is just so weird.”

Anyway, I grew up surrounded by flower beds and quickly fell in love with the sweet smell of wet dirt. It’s intoxicating, really – especially, at this time of year – I can’t wait to get my hands into the dirt!

“Ewww, but bugs live in there!”

My girls, not so much.

“Go inside and clean your room, then.”

So, I can usually get my girls to help with the weeding and a lot of people ask me why I put so much time and effort into growing vegetables, when we are surrounded by farm markets and super-shop-and-drops.

I smile, nod and just say that it makes me happy.

Digging in the dirt is infectious – after nearly 20 years of hanging with my folks, my husband has also developed a rather green thumb, through osmosis – so, we here at This Full House of grimy little hands and bare feet spend a lot of our summertime, outdoors.


Except, my 10-year-old son. 

"Are there any bees?"

Glen is the only one of my four children to have ever been stung by a bee.  Five times!

"Some, but they’re not out to get you, or anything."

I lied. 

"Besides, are you going to spend the whole summer in the house?"

He’s thinking about it.

"The bees are busy out back, but – I have to weed a little, out front – why don’t you come outside and shoot a few hoops."

Begrudgingly, he followed me out to the front of the house and, as I kicked at the last of the sticky balls that were lying about from the winter, we both stopped in front of the weeping cherry tree to admire the transplants from my MIL’s garden.

"Wow, check out your great-grandfather’s iris!"

[eyes go wide]

"Whuh…oh my gosh…WHERE!?!"

My son screamed, threw the basketball into the flower bed and ran back into the house, screaming just like one the girls when a spider finds its way into their shower.

"Oh, for the love of Pete!"

Bees can be scary.  I’ve been stung before and absolutely understand that, you know, it hurts!  My son’s fear of bees, however, was beginning to get out of hand and the screaming is really starting to get on my nerves.


Who’s the grown up, here?  I did what any other anxious parent would do.  I dragged his butt back, outside, with me!

"I know you’re scared, but try and remember that everything in nature serves a purpose – after all, they are very important to our environment – maybe you could, you know, watch them and may be you’ll learn a little bit from them, too."

My son nodded his head and was trying really hard to hide the fact that he was also crying, a little.

"Okay, but I think you’re being mean!"

[blank stare]

"And totally gross!"

Okay, he lost me…again.

"I mean, my family buries eyes in the garden, that’s just so weird!?!"

Now, I’m laughing.

 "No, I meant the flower."

[wiping eyes]

"Why didn’t you just say so!?!?"

I also pointed out the fact that the three upright petals and three drooping sepals are symbols for faith, valor, and wisdom.

"Your grandfather always believed that, even though he didn’t speak English very well, everyone spoke flowers."

Wait for it….

"He always said that we could learn a lot from gardening."

Here it comes….

"Well, if it supposed to make you smart, maybe you should plant some more!"

Whoops, there it is.


Well, shut my mouth – not only are his eyes blue, but I do believe my only son has inherited his grandfather’s sense of humor, too – stupid flowers!