| My son and I recently engaged in some landscaping, which consisted of what you might expect, mowing, weeding, trimming of bushes and hedges, pruning of trees, etc. Unfortunately, the garden in question had been neglected for some time so it had gone rather wild, which growing things will do left unchecked, and it made the job far more involved than it might normally be if there had been any maintenance since spring. As it was, it was a veritable jungle out there.
My son, while a very good sort of boy, is still just a 16 year old kid and therefore, landscaping and gardening are not his favorites pastimes. In fact, they rate somewhere in the vicinity of washing dishes and scrubbing floors, so any real enthusiasm for this project on his part was somewhat lacking. His goal was to get it done as quickly and easily as possible with minimal exposure to sun or actual work. Sadly, he erroneously assumed that I felt the same way, so he was doomed to disappointment and hard labor.
Alas for my hapless offspring, I am one of those annoying people who actually enjoys this kind of hard work. And if that were not enough, I am also one of those people who sees landscaping as a creative endeavor, which translates as, “I know how I want it to look and it has to be as near perfect as possible and nothing will get in the way of me doing it.” This is a trait that my poor son considers not only unfortunate, but also somewhat psychotic. Being the average teenage boy, and terminally lazy, he is satisfied with the bare minimum of horticultural or most other kinds of achievement. I made him very unhappy on this day.
One of the things that required trimming and pruning was a tree, which was big enough to require a rather tall ladder. Chuck has no real fear of heights, but he is not comfortable with ladders and harbors a suspicion that they might betray him at any moment. I did most of the ladder climbing while he steadied it on the ground, but there were some branches that were just beyond my ability to reach and then he had to ascend with a good deal of grumbling and prophesies of disaster. You won't be surprised to hear that he not only lived, but suffered no classic OSHA ladder related injuries. I suspect he was just a little disappointed since falling off a ladder would have definitely spared him any further landscaping labors.
Much to Chuck's disgust, I insisted upon walking away from the things that we were wrestling into sculpted beauty so that I could judge how they looked from a distance. When I did this he would stand next to me and say, “I think it looks fine.” This is Chuck-speak for, “I don't want to work on this thing any more and I don't actually care how it looks.” It's important to learn the lingo of the natives. I explained to him that I wanted the tree to look like the ace of spades.
“What is this?” he asked. “The Red Queen's garden? The ace of spades, Mom? Really?”
“That's the shape I'm aiming for,” I told him. “And I'm going to get it.”
This pronouncement was greeted with eye-rolling and some not particularly nice mumbling under his breath. It didn't bother me...I'm immune. I put him back to work and when we were done, I had my ace of spades shape, although he maintained that he couldn't see a lot of difference. Of course not, he is a teenage boy and therefore, a Philistine.
One huge bush we trimmed was quite tall and planted on a rise in the ground, so using a ladder was out of the question since it was impossible to find any place level enough to put it. We had worked on it for some time and were taking a break to have a drink of water while I inspected what we had left to do. The very top of the bush covered a fairly large area and there were a few shoots of new growth that stuck out on top about 10 inches that we were having trouble reaching. I was not happy.
“Look at that evil bush,” I said to Chuck. “Look at it with it's nasty delinquent shoots waving in the breeze and mocking us.”
Chuck looked at me askance. “Mom, you are completely insane. You think that ugly bush is deliberately tormenting you. I think you may be in serious need of a trained mental health professional.”
“Nonsense!” I replied. I'm in need of a trained cherry-picker professional, but since we don't have one, we will have to improvise.” We struggled with that stupid bush for another half hour, during which time my son gave me a lecture about being too much of a perfectionist and slightly loopy. In the end, after a mighty struggle for dominance, we managed to get to those last remaining shoots and I felt victorious.
“That bush may have mocked us,” I told Chuck, “but who's laughing now?”
“Pretty much anyone who saw us wrestling with the stupid bush,” moaned Chuck.
Some people just don't appreciate winning a good fight.