Tuesday, March 18, 2008

So apparently my dream of being the Swiss Family Robinson is bullshit.

I took all of my children to Lowe's a couple of weeks ago and we picked out all kinds of vegetable seeds, herbs and flowers in homage to my sudden raging desire to make something grow. This happens almost every spring. The sudden urge to plant and become productive, to create sustenance from dirt and sunlight overwhelms me and I come up with huge, wonderful, awesome ideas for herb gardens, vegetable gardens, day lilies and fruit orchards. (Don't ask me where the fruit orchard would go, I live on a third of an acre. But it's a great idea.)

This is actually the first time in several years I've tried planting anything. I've been in school working my way toward a job that will allow me to pay off my massive student loans and between that and children and children in school and children randomly puking from the top of the bunkbed, it's been a bit hectic. I held back on that deep, instinctive nature to play in dirt.

It is for the best as my gardening abilities are not really abilities so much as depraved and sadistic activities. I've killed nearly everything I touch and was dubbed The Dark Gardener by a concerned family member when I was still a teen.

But this year finally caught me. My children are older. My goth girl is 13. The boys are 6 and 5. I'm a senior now and I thought they would be more interested in gardening. I am also suffering with an insane case of senioritis. I don't wanna play with words anymore. I want to pump gas for a living or dig ditches. I want to grow things. It became plainly apparent to me one Sunday that the best way to foster a sense of family unity while simultaneously ignoring my homework was to plant a massive garden.

As we speak, I have successfully transplanted the sunflowers to the front yard and they are still green. I did kill a hydrangea a few days before. The hydrangea, though, was on clearance and already looking a little green around the gills so its demise is not entirely my fault. Now, I have watermelon, hot peppers, bell peppers, chives, mint, pole beans, cow peas, lavendar, oregano and a strawberry bush all growing up very nicely in their little greenhouse thingies. I don't even know where I'm going to put all this stuff. Maybe I'll borrow a bit of the neighbor's yard.

The problem though (besides buying more plants than I have yard) is my secret desire. Picking out the plants and the lawn cultivator and the cheap frigging garden rake that does not stay all in one piece I had such wonderful dreams of being a loving little single parent family unit. My daughter would divest herself of the Robert Smith eyeliner and we'd wear cute little matching sunhats with gingham ribbon as we talked about her day at school over the watermelon patch. My boys would gamble about in their cute little buster browns and perfectly coifed hair with the little wave in the front, pulling weeds willy nilly while exlaiming over the size of the tomatoes. Okay, so maybe it's a little too cheesy for my tastes, but my point is we'd radiate love, happiness and togetherness. We would be A UNIT.

I think the neighbors have been blowing their pot smoke through my bathroom vents because I was obviously out of my mind. I should have known to leave Lowe's without spending the money. One stomped because I wouldn't by the Venus flytrap. Another kept climbing up on the plant tables and jumping off. And the other developed a random one-time bout of diarrhea right before we were ready to check out.

It was all downhill from there. My UNIT dissolved into whining messes. I made the mistake of only buying one garden rake and everyone wanted to use the garden rake. No one wanted to actually touch the dirt and the whining reached a crescendo when my oldest informed me I was so unfair and no one was making me dig up the yard and no one made me clean house and no one made me cook, I did it because I wanted to and it was unfair for me to make her dig up the front yard.

Oh, my poor little Orphan Annie. I sent her to her room until they found a cure for puberty.

So now I have all these damned sprouting things in my house and only a third of my back yard dug up. My kids think it's the hokiest thing ever. I'm left out there all alone while they run around the yard with the neighbor kids and I festered over my inability to create unity. What the hell it is about me that cause such disjointed behavior is beyond me. Maybe it's the hair. I've never successfully pulled off one cohesive thing in my life. My plants always die. My children act like war combatants, demanding and vying to be heard over everybody else until I hide in the closet with a key lime pie and pretend it's all perfectly normal. My cars . . . you know what. I'm not even going to talk about my cars. That's a whole can of worms that should be discussed in therapy. Unless it can be put together with duct tape, I'm apparently incapable of pulling it together. Maybe I should just duct tape my plants to the ground.

But I have discovered one thing. When I stopped trying to involve my children in the gardening to create the perfect White Trash Stepford unit and stopped grousing because they whined, I discovered it was quiet. Apparently the best way to get my children to ignore me is to stand in the yard with a lawn aerator and a garden rake. For the first time in countless years, I was left virtually alone for an hour while they played with the neighbor kids.

As I step-punched-twisted holes across the back yard, I thought about my capstone portfolio due in two months and I wasn't quite so hysterical about it. I could begin to feel the form and the ending of my brilliant masterpiece that will be the bulk of the portfolio. That little freak in my head who runs around with her hands ripping out her hair while declaring the apocalypse was upon us went somewhere. Maybe she took a nap or went looking for the rest of the key lime pie. (HA! I ate it! nyeah nyeah!) And even though my hands were starting to blister, I kept going across the yard because I was calm. I had my hands in something and somehow it gave my ideas a shape and a feel.

I didn't want the peace to go away so I ignored the dishes in the sink and the clothes in the washing machine and the obvious fact my five year old was slowly divesting himself of his clothing in the back yard. We had sandwiches for dinner because it was late when I finally went back in the house.

My thesis leader dude has been telling me to breathe for three months now. Every time I saw him, my whole being was in an uproar and I was absolutely sure I was on the verge of an aneurysm or a stroke. (The facial tics may be more indicative of a stroke.) And he kept saying to me, "Just breathe. Take a walk and breathe." Of course, being the nutbag I am, I only nodded at him like it all made perfect sense and then ran to the bathroom so I could rant by myself:

"Breathe?! Breathe?! I don't have fucking time to breathe. I'll breathe in May after grades are distributed. But there is no breathing now! No time for breathing! What crunchy hippy granola zen goddamned bullshit. I don't need to breathe. I need someone to tell me what to do."

So I've been directly ignoring everything everyone has said for months and drowning in my own hysterical melodrama. Then I haphazardly set out to plant a garden in this random stab at creating this family idea that I keep seeing around town. HOW does my middle son's teacher manage to walk out the door with three triplet boys and they are all wearing shoes, socks and presumably underwear and they sit so quietly in public? What is she doing? Bribery? Duct tape? Nyquil? So far, I've failed miserably in creating a garden of togetherness. But someone should remind me to tell Stephen I've started breathing again.

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