Friday, April 19, 2013

Painting the grass

I wonder if they paint their grass?
Before leaving BYU, I remember having an exit interview just before graduation in the science building. I spoke to a couple of women on the advisory board for the college of Biology. They asked me about my plans for the future. My experience at BYU. Suggestions and feedback I had for the college. We talked about my family and my siblings and their future plans. They seemed impressed by the things we were accomplishing and they asked me what gave us our high ambitions and drive to achieve. I wasn’t sure at the time. Thinking back it may have had something to do with painting the grass.

We grew up doing yardwork as a family. Very frequently (it seemed like every Saturday in my memory), we were roused by my father to help with the yardwork. He would come up with a project he wanted to accomplish and rally the troops. This consisted of “the big girls” (which depending on the age, was my twin sister Amber and I, and as we got older, our younger sister Brenna) following him around to pick up never-ending branches after they were trimmed, planting the garden, weeding, raking, or other standard yard work, and the younger kids getting bored and frustrated early on and “the big girls” annoyed they had to do so much of the work. Luckily, we were usually rewarded with a fun dinner out or an activity that evening. I learned early on Saturdays were for the yard.

2012-10-27 001 2012-10-27 007
I still find it a habit (when I can get up the motivation) to spend my Saturdays working outside. Too bad I’m the only “big girl” (don’t I look it in this picture?—talk about flattering angles) around to help!
During the summertime while our friends seemed to have never-ending activities with friends and not a care in the world (I wonder how close perception was to reality here?), my dad made us promise to never sleep past 8:30 and to spend one hour per day in the yard. ONE hour…60 full minutes outside laboring away. It seemed like torture sitting in the morning sunshine with a quiet yard, and pretty unreasonable to me at the time. None of my friends had to spend a full hour a week doing chores (at least not that I knew about—did you guys?), and we had to spend one whole hour each day! Amber was in charge of pruning the roses, and while it was frought with danger (thorns!), at least she had the great satisfaction of the beautiful blooms to keep her going. I was in charge of weeding the flower beds, which ironically I think back on now, one hour per day was not enough to keep up with all of the weeds. And I hope Dad, you aren’t reading when I confess despite how awful I thought this time was, I don’t think I came anywhere close to meeting the time quota. I’m guessing you already knew that, though – by looking at the flower beds.

2011-07-02 001 2011-07-02 006
I’m still not very good at keeping up with my flower beds!
But I haven’t even got to the worst of it: painting the grass.
Never heard of this chore before? I’m not surprised. I’m not sure where my dad got the idea, but I remember him coming home from work one day and gathering Amber and I to the front porch. He gave us each a pair of gardening gloves, a little mug, and a sponge paint brush. I was a little excited by the cute green and yellow gloves and mugs until he instructed us that we would spend an hour each day “painting the grass” with weed killer. He filled each mug about half way with Roundup and put us to work.

I quickly inherited a disdain for “crab grass” from him.

Can you blame me after hours of artistically “painting” Roundup on individual blades of crabgrass in our lawn “each” day during my high school summer? If you know anything about weed killer, it kills pretty much anything it comes in contact with. Thus, you cannot simply spray it on the lawn hoping to kill the undesirable grassy varieties that threaten to choke out your beautiful lawn unless you want to kill all of the surrounding grass as well. Therefore, it must be applied more carefully, blade by blade, and a paintbrush was evidently just the tool to deliver the chemical.
I have no idea if it made a difference or not. I couldn’t tell and I think I thought my dad was kind of crazy. Who knows what the people in the cars driving by must have thought?

2012-05-09 001 2012-05-09 001
Sorry, Dad, but it’s a lot more fun taking care of my own yard!
Isn’t it interesting how your perspective changes with time though? I look back and realize he was GENIUS. Maybe he really did believe in the blade by blade method for weed control; I suspect he believed more in the power of work. I’ve heard of parents or discipline programs making kids move piles of rocks back and forth to teach hardwork and discipline. I think the grass was our own little never-ending rock pile. I may have learned to hate crabgrass, but I think I also learned the importance of working hard, even if it seems silly or futile, never-ending, or like you just can’t make your way out of the weed patch.

My life definitely has had some overgrown patches to pass through since then. And I just keep painting…


Amber said...

My Saturdays always consisted of chores inside and occasionally outside as well. It's funny... While Paige was here last week, we talked about how grateful we are to know how to clean things properly and thoroughly. All those Saturday chores really were worth it!

Dad said...

Whaa, whaa, whaaaaa....snicker...
I'll bet someday, you'll find "very important" things for your kids to do too.

Dad's Wife said...

Dad didn't say that. I was trying to type "dad's wife" but my fingers got confused.

brenna said...

Haha, I was telling my friend about this last week!