I belong to the school of thought which says the secret to having a lovely lawn is regular maintenance. Which is why, every four years ( just like the Olympics), we don our outside clothes and start pulling weeds, whether it needs it or not. It’s also why we don’t have a lovely lawn.
After an hour, the thrill of weeding had started to fade from the all the children’s faces, except Miss6, on whose face it had never appeared in the first place. I decided to give the weed pulling the old Mary Poppins’ treatment.
“Let’s have a game,” I told them. “A weeding game.”
“Noooo,” moaned Miss6, stomping off into the back yard to watch her mother tend the vege patch.
“Let’s have a game,” I told the remaining kids. “Two against two. Whoever fills their box first, wins.”
“I’m on your side, Dad,” said Miss9.
“No, I am,” said Master8.
It sounds like I was in demand, but they’d simply worked out whoever wasn’t on my team was lumbered with Miss3 as a teammate. The light came on above Master8’s head first.
“Why don’t we be on the same team?” he asked Miss9.
“So I get Miss3?” I asked them doubtfully. “Thanks.”
“It’s fair, Dad,” said Master8. “Two against two.”
My teammate chose that moment to run down the hill behind me with her arms out yelling out, “Weee-eee-eee-eee,” all the way to the fence.
“Good luck,” grinned Miss9.
“The game starts….NOW!” I said, and started digging out weeds with a knife. Very quickly it became clear I was much faster at this than even the combined talents of Miss9 and Master8. But they had a secret weapon up their sleeves.
“Daddy, I help you,” said Miss3, appearing at my side. She’d tired of dancing around the yard and was looking for another distraction. I tossed another weed into our box. “No, Daddy!” she admonished me. I was doing it wrong. “I help you.”
“How?” I asked.
“You give me the weeds and I put them in the box.”
I gave her a weed and she stood up and went to the box and placed it in. While she was doing this I uprooted another couple, putting them in a pile in front of the box instead of simply tossing them in.
“No, Daddy!” said Miss3. “You give them to me. In my hand.”
“How’s it going over there, Dad?” called Master8.
“I’m still beating you two,” I assured him.
I was too. But not for long. One thing I’ll give my kids, they’re not short of cunning.
“Dad?” said Miss9 a minute later. She was standing slightly behind me, so I had to turn my head to look at her. “Is this a weed?”
I looked at the horrid green thing in her hands. The yard was full of them. We’d been pulling them up for twenty minutes.
“Of course, it is,” I told her. “You know that.”
“Okay,” she said. “Thank you.” And she walked off grinning like a fool.
I turned back to my weeds, pulled another one up and gave it to Miss3.
“The weeds are gone,” she said when she went to put it in our box.
I looked in. Sure enough, there was barely a handful in the bottom. Master8’s and Miss9’s box, on the other hand, was suspiciously half full.
“Even with that head start, you’re still going down,” I told them.
No they weren’t.
After a few more weed raids I began weeding over our box, although I still had to hand the weeds to Miss3, who was taking her role very seriously.
Not ten minutes later I looked over at our competition to find Miss9 lying on her back singing a song to the clouds.
“You giving up?” I asked her.
“No,” she assured me. “We’re nearly done.”
I looked at Master8, who must surely be reffing weeds out like a wheat harvester to justify her confidence, but he was swinging a stick around his head like it was a lightsaber.
“More, Daddy,” said Miss3, and I handed her another weed…
…which she took over and dropped in our competitor’s box.
“You’re wonderful,” Miss9 interrupted her soft tune to tell her little sister, who grinned at the acknowledgement and tottled back over to me to grab some more.
But she didn’t need to.
“Finished!” yelled Master8, picking up the box and gloating. “We won!”
In four years time, when we come together to compete in the gardening games again, I’m going to push for the introduction of smug testing.
When not typing away over here and checking his stats every two minutes Bruce Devereaux hangs out at his ‘BIG FAMILY little income’ Facebook Page.
’raising a family on little more than laughs’