Reader Contribution by Pat Stone
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Look, I like my kids. All of them. The two-year-old with the teeth. The ten-year-old with the pouts. The seven-year-old who fights with the twelve-year-old. And the ten-year-old. That is, when they’re not fighting each other. Or the two-year-old with the teeth.

My kids don’t drive me crazy. They don’t. Why? Do I sound edgy? Do your kids ever drive you crazy?

It’s just that once in a while, when the end of the day comes, I think how nice it’d be to spend a few moments, quiet, peaceful moments, in the garden. So, while the two-, the seven-, the ten-, and the twelve-year-old aren’t looking, I slip outside the door, and stealthily saunter out to my garden. Ah, yes, there it is. And sure enough, as soon as my gay collage of growing plants sees me, they all greet me, in unison:

“Hey! Where were you all day?!”

“Get me some mulch!” shout the potatoes. “I need some mulch!”

Mulch. Right. Just a minute.

“The pigweeds are pushing me again!” cry the cosmos. “Make them stop!”

OK, I better weed the pigweeds. I mean, the cosmos.

“Excuse me,” say the tomatoes. “Excuse me! You are supposed to tie my vines to these stakes, you know.”

Oh, gosh. I haven’t done that yet? Uh, here I come.

“I don’t want to grow next to the green beans,” whine the marigolds. “They got little yellow cooties. Everywhere!”

I look. The marigolds are right. The green beans are covered with cooties—I mean, Mexican bean beetles. This is going to take a while.

“Yo! You! You want your corn to grow sideways?”

Good grief, what knocked over all the corn plants? I’d better straighten them back up before it’s too late.

“Hey! I want some water,” cry the chard leaves.

“I want some, too!” shout the strawflowers.

“Me first! Me first!” say the zinnias.

Quick! Get the hose!

It works. As soon as start spraying the plot, all the plants shut up, their mouths too full to make any noise. I water thoroughly, everywhere, until dark. The garden finally falls asleep, a perfect picture of peace and tranquility.

I turn off the hose, the better to enjoy the moment. In the silence, I hear wailing inside the house. From the seven-year-old. Something about the two-year-old. And the teeth.

Art by Linda Cook Devona

Pat Stone is the Editor of GreenPrints, “The Weeder’s Digest,” the magazine that shares the personal side of gardening. Visit our website,