Saturday, April 16, 2011

Let's hope the oak don't croak

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Or, in this case, a tree is a tree only because a 5 year old says it is.

Picking up my son from school, he ran toward the car with a long stick in his hand. He opened the car door and jumped inside.

“Hey,” I called out and pointed, “why did you bring a stick into my car?”

He smiled, waved it in the air and answered, “It’s not a stick. It’s an oak tree.”

I looked again. It was three feet long and skinnier than his pinky finger, with no leaves and a few scraggly roots wrapped in a wet paper towel.

An oak tree?

Sure. And I’m really blonde.

I turned the car for home and asked, “So what are you supposed to do with it?”

I caught him rolling his eyes in the rearview mirror before responding, “We’re supposed to plant it.”

“And then what?” I asked.

“We watch it grow!” he yelled excitedly.

I snuck another peak at the back seat, looked at the scraggly in his hand and thought radioactive waste had a better chance of taking root in our yard than that little guy. But who am I to dash a young boy’s hopes?

I’ll leave that to his dad.


“What the hell is that?” my husband asked, pointing to our son as he jumped out of the car.
“It’s an oak tree!” our son yelled excitedly.

The stunned look on my husband’s face suddenly made this whole experience a lot more fun.

His mouth silently formed the word tree?

I shrugged and said, “Some kids bring a note home from the principal. Our kid brings home a tree.”

He pointed and asked, “Where in the world did it come from?”

“We haven’t quite established that yet,” I answered. “Someone gave it to someone else who gave it to his teacher who gave it to him. Granted, the provenance is a little shady, but, hey, the oak tree will be too in about 40 years.”

I chuckled at my pun but got no response from anyone else. Wet blankets, both of them.

I pointed to the older one and sniped, “What do you care? You’re older than I am and will probably be dead by then anyway.” And then I stomped off.


We should be grateful the thing came with directions.

“We have to plant it immediately,” I read aloud. “If not, then we have to store it in the vegetable crisper of the fridge.”

I stopped, looked up, took in the length of said “tree” and quickly did the math.

The only way that thing was fitting in a drawer in our fridge was if I snapped it in six places, shoved it inside and slammed the door.

Nothing good ever comes from reading directions. Moving along.

“OK, new plan,” I said and clapped my hands to get their attention, “we gotta plant this thing now.” I looked at my husband and asked, “Where do we put it?”

His expression told me he had a good idea that involved me bending over, but he refrained since our son was standing two feet away.

He shrugged, shovel in hand, and answered. “I don’t care.”

Big help. Huge.

I headed for the back yard with my son trailing behind. “Let’s plant this”

My son immediately pounced, “That’s a quarter for the Curse Jar, Mom.”


I pointed out a spot in back of the yard, and my husband asked, “Shouldn’t we think about this? You know, call the utility company so I don’t get fried when I start digging?”

I patted him comfortingly on the shoulder and said, “Ah, listen to you, Mr. Safety....but, no. There are no lines back there. The flags still mark from when I planted last Spring. You’re safe.”

He hesitated and continued, “But what about testing the soil? Drainage?” He waved the sheet of directions in my face.

I quickly snagged them and leaned over to whisper, “Does it really matter? Did you see that thing? A strong breeze will blow it over. There’s no way that thing makes it to morning. Just make it look good. For now.”

Ah, parenthood. It’s about smoke and mirrors until kids catch on and realize we’ve been conning them the whole time.

Life is good.


  1. That tree will probably end up being the biggest one around!

    I brought one home in elementary school and planted it. My brother preceded to mow over it a couple of times and it now stands proudly in my parent's yard!

  2. As my mom reminded me...I arrived home with an ash tree the size of a toothpick when I was in the fourth grade.

    I proudly watched as my dad dug a hole - in the front yard, a place of honor - and plopped it down into the ground. We joked it would be dead by the end of the week.

    Thirty years later, it's grown into a gorgeous tree. My brother's, however, died. ;)