Moms are always up to their tricks, aren’t they? Brush your teeth, wash your hair, eat your dinner. What was up with that?
All grown up with kids and grandkids of our own we realize that as young gardeners, our moms weren’t trying to torture us with cavity-free teeth or full bellies, it was just their job to keep us alive and well. A task I’m sure we can all agree we didn’t make easy at one time or another!
Today’s piece, Outsmarting Mother: We got her good! from Deborah Young is a testament to the wisdom of motherhood, and also a funny reminder of what it was like to gather outside in the Summer with siblings as young gardeners, thinking you could outsmart the mother of all mothers when she offered up chores.
When Young Gardeners Set Their Mind to Something…
This story comes from our archive that spans over 30 years and includes more than 130 magazine issues of GreenPrints. Pieces like these that inject the joy of gardening with kids into everyday life lessons always brighten up my day, and I hope it does for you as well. Enjoy!
We got her good!
By Deborah Young
“Mom! He pulled my hair!” I shouted, leaning over the oak banister. I held my head in exaggerated pain.
“She knocked my toys over first!” Don complained.
“Will you two be quiet? I’m reading!” screamed Diane. “You’re the one making all the noise!” said Dale.
Suddenly, we heard Mother’s voice from below: “There’s a row of beans that needs tending.”
My siblings and I instantly went silent. Down the stairs we trudged, single file, as slowly as possible. Garden work had become Mother’s go-to solution to sibling wars that summer. The first time she inflicted it on us we attempted sabotage, hoping to show that kids did not belong in the garden.
She showed us—right away—that that trick wouldn’t work. And ever since, we’d spent a good part of that summer stuck … weeding.
The four of us marched slowly through the kitchen and passed Mother, resisting the urge to stick our tongues out. Why did she make us all work? It was Don’s fault!
We walked past the beets, corn, carrots, turnips, tomatoes, onions, etc., until we reached the mile-long row of beans. (Well, it looked like a mile!) Then we knelt down to work. Or, rather, to continue our argument.
“It’s all your fault!”
“Move over! I’m working here.”
“I wouldn’t work near you. You’ve got cooties!” “You want cooties? Catch this bug!”
As usual, we spent more time fussing than weeding. The sun beat down and sweat ran from the tops of our heads.
After a while, we grew tired of fussing with each other—and turned our discontent to Mother.
“Why does Mom have this garden if she won’t care for it?” “Yeah. She never does the weeding.”
Suddenly, I had an inspiration. “I know what! If we work together, we can get this job done quick. Then we can have the rest of the day to play!”
The faces of the others brightened. “Yeah!” said Dale.
I took charge. “Dale, you do that side and I’ll do this side. Don, Diane, you two start at the other end of the row. If we work together, we’ll be done long before lunch time. And do a good job so she can’t send us back out!”
We set to work with vigor and laughter—and did, indeed, finish well before lunch.
We went inside to brag to Mother.
“Oh?” she said. “I better go see if you did a good job.”
“Oh, you’re not fooling us with that one,” I replied. “We got ‘em good.”
Mom chuckled. “Well, I have to admit. You outsmarted me this time.”
We all grinned. “We sure did,” I said. ❖
By Deborah Young, published originally in 2016, in GreenPrints Issue #106. Illustrations by Hannah England.
Did you enjoy this story about gardening with kids? Young gardeners always have tricks up their sleeves to get the work done faster, don’t they?