Mid Evening in the Garden of Toddler and Screaming

Photo Credit: Alex Borland

Photo Credit: Alex Borland

It started off like most typical spring evenings. The sun starting to go down behind the hills, and a slight southerly breeze blowing in was helping to cool down the muggy, warm afternoon air. You could hear the sounds of kids playing at the park just down the sidewalk and birds chirping from the trees. Here in the mountains, it’s high time for garden planting. The smell of fresh-cut grass, freshly mixed soil, and the opening , early spring flowers just envelopes the senses. It’s majestic the way spring can make one feel a little renewed, and how the simple act of planting flowers in a garden gives one hope as you watch new life bloom. It’s serene.

Until the toddler gets tired of the work involved and starts whining to go inside and get a Capri Sun.

Mid-evening and the children and I are hard at work. New flats of flowers were brought home for the purpose of sprucing up our newly created flower bed. The first time we have done such. Excited to watch the fruits of their labor bring forth beauty in their tiny yard, they were also learning the value of work, getting down and dirty, and the patience one must have to yield great results. They were also learning that work is hard, the soil is dirty, and that it’s not as much fun as playing with sidewalk chalk and riding bikes.

The children hovered around as I started the first steps into transforming our garden. Breaking up the clay-like soil and mixing in better, nutrient treated soil. They squirmed and squealed at the different bugs that tend to show themselves when you disturb their hiding places, and shrieked in fear at the sight of the honey bees that had come to check out their new targets. You would think we were planting an Amazonian rain forest the way they observed everything around us. Which I guess has its plus side. After all, the front “yard’ is not really that magical and awe-inspiring of a place. Once the bed was prepped it was time to start planting.

That of course, is when it all fell apart.

It was at this time that all the neighborhood kids came out to play. Why shouldn’t they? It was a bright, warm, sunshine filled afternoon. The kind of days kids long for in the spring time. But then they all descended upon where we were. Surrounded now by several kids and neighbors who had come out, I had lost the kids, and their partaking of the joy of gardening was done. They were off to bigger and better things like playing baseball, and riding scooters. And sneaking around trying to see if they could get away from the all-knowing eye of Dad.

Sadly for them, they would learn that this just isn’t possible. Little Girl trying to sneak and play in the sink inside, then tried to sneak behind the building to get in the back door. Both times being caught red-handed. Little Dude, a little more well-behaved with the exception of trying to get to far away. Not that I don’t trust him, but… well, I don’t trust him. He’s too easily influenced by others. He gets his freedom, but carefully monitored freedom. It didn’t take long to figure out that the gardening would have to be finished alone and quickly, and the kids rounded up to head back inside before things got out of hand.

That’s where the screaming came in.

With lightening quick speed I finished planting the 3 flats of flowers I had bought earlier that day. With precision and finesse, I got them in their rows, beautifully spaced in rich soil. Watered everything down, and took my trash off to the dumpster. I had one of the neighbors keeping a watchful eye on the kids for the short trip to get the trash taken off. Then it was time to corral them and head back inside. Every parent knows that during a beautiful spring evening, this can be a real challenge. And so it was.

Little Dude began his usual “Awww, maaaan. DANGIT!” whining that is typical anytime he is asked to do something he doesn’t want to. Grunting and muttering under his breath he gathered his toys and gave me a glare as he walked onto the porch and on inside. Little Girl decided it would be more fun to throw a tantrum fit for a two-year old princess. With her arms flailing and her toes trying to dig a stronghold in the grass, she opened her mouth and screamed at 100% capacity. They whole neighborhood could hear those screams with their hands over their ears. The toys in her hands were used as harmful projectiles that struck me in the head. But I didn’t flinch. Okay, maybe I did a little, but not enough to be really noticeable.

I quickly decided to defuse the situation. And by defuse, I mean scoop her up by under her arms and carry her inside while being sure her kicking legs didn’t catch me in the remaining man bit. The screaming continued once we got inside and set Little Dude off in a fit of yelling “Make her stop!!! Send her to her room! Bust her tail!! DO SOMETHING!” Trying to maintain my cool the best I could, I quickly grabbed the laptop, found Frozen online, grabbed the cheese puffs, and let it ride. There’s something about cheese puffs… or maybe Frozen…. That can calm the savage beast.

I stepped outside for a smoke after the kids had settled. Admiring the beauty of the garden, and its stark contrast to the downhill tone the evening had taken. The bright colors of the petals against the backdrop of dark, wet soil was the perfect visualization of what it was to try to garden with rowdy toddlers around. I sighed, extinguished the  cigarette, and headed back inside.

A new adventure was awaiting me.

The bedtime routine.

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