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  • Writer's pictureSarahHauer

Flowers or Weeds?

When I was at The Getty in Los Angeles recently, I watched one of the gardeners tending to the flowers in the carefully planned flower beds. They have beautiful grounds to compliment the art work inside the multiple pavilions. I love going there. The entire place is set up for peaceful contemplation. Watching the gardener brought back a memory.

When I was in the sixth grade I asked my mother if I could have a flowerbed in the yard. I wanted to try my hand at the adult activity of gardening. I had one neighbor across the street who showed me how to tend to flowers, another neighbor who had flowers and raspberries in her vegetable garden, and my parents grew vegetables in their garden every year. She said yes. I was very excited about doing something new for myself. It was going to be my own science experiment for the summer months in the short Minnesota growing season.

I told her where I wanted it in the backyard near their vegetable garden. I wanted it near the back corner where it would get plenty of sunlight and not take up too much space in the yard. She said no. She had my dad till up a tiny spot right next to the garage. I didn't think that was a good place for it because even the grass didn't grow well there for lack of sun. But, hey, effort was being put into my request, and these are my parents, so I decided to deal with it and say nothing.

We went to the store to pick out the flower seeds. That went well. Even she was excited about it.

Bear in mind this was in the spring/summer of 1982. There was no internet to research how to do this. I only had the observations of the neighbors who had flowerbeds, science class, and the instructions on the back of the seed packets. With my science experiment curiosity in full gear, I went to work planting my flower bed.

I read the back of the instruction packets and carefully planned where each type of seed would be planted. I created rows in the small space my dad separated out from the sparse grass and nearby tree roots with wood planks he had in the garage. I carefully removed seeds from the first packet and planted them according to the directions given. I covered them with dirt and marked the row with a stick. There were extra seeds in the packet to fill in later for the ones that did not sprout, so I carefully folded the packet closed and set it aside. I did the same for all the rest of the seed packets.

The flowerbed seeded and proud of my careful planning and diligent work, I took the packets in the house and put them in the kitchen cabinet that was more of a filing cabinet with important papers and containers of office supplies stuffed in it. My plans were to monitor the bed, weed it, and either replant where needed or plant them again the next year. These were annuals not perennials.

The next day, I came home from school and noticed the ground in my flower bed was disturbed. The sticks, which were quite small to begin with, were knocked down and strewn about no longer marking the rows I had carefully created.

I ran into the house to discover the seed packets were gone from the cabinet. My mother had taken the open packets and re-planted the flower bed.

I was livid. My careful planning and work was disregarded. My expectations for how the bed might grow demolished. My outdoor space invaded. My feelings on the matter ignored. My self-assigned science experiment destroyed.

Was the flowerbed destroyed? No. The ground was tilled. The seeds were planted. I do recall some things starting to grow especially the morning glories. However, it didn't do well for lack of sun and the choking of the tree roots. t was None of that mattered to me. It was no longer my flowerbed. It was now my mother's project. Not that we discussed it. We never talked about it. But I never touched it again. I couldn't. I felt too betrayed.

Was it her intention to betray me by invading my flowerbed? I doubt it. Was she trying to take it over? Probably not. She probably attempted to show me what she considered a better way to plant it, and maybe didn't appreciate how I left the remaining seeds in the kitchen cabinet. Maybe she just wanted more of a plethora of flowers to spring up in opposition to me wanting to do a more controlled experiment. I don't know. We never had the discussion.

Here is what I did know and understand even better today. Her intentions of planting seeds to grow flowers in my flowerbed without my input and not respecting my space and my decisions left me feeling disregarded. In other words, any flowers that grew from those seeds were weeds to me.

It's about control. I was attempting to do something for myself. She was attempting to do it for me. Our intentions, both good, were at odds. It doesn't matter who was right and who was wrong. What matters was that there was a lack of communication, mutual respect, cooperation, and a crossing over of personal boundaries. She didn't intend to be controlling of me, but it was misplaced control over me. It created a wall between us.

Be conscious of the seeds you attempt to plant in the lives of your children. What you intend as flowers they might see as weeds. Weeds, once planted, are a constant chore.

Are there seeds you planted in the lives of your children you now regret? I know I do.

Thanks for reading!


Humor In Chaos



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