Why do our children pull weeds?

My kids pull weeds. I should say, my husband and I make our kids pull weeds. Torture?

Maybe, for us. We started this when we lived in Austin, Texas. It’s hot there, like really hot. So the weed pulling thing didn’t have a lot of initial appeal for them. To be honest, it didn’t have much appeal for me either.

Our yard started out like those found on many new suburban properties with a blank slate for a backyard, which in Texas translated to nothing but dirt.

We would take drives to look at houses and plants used in their gardens. We perused landscape- design books on Saturdays at The Home Depot, and we even purchased graph paper to try to plot out our vision.

This is where my husband, who is very meticulous, proves what a gem he is. He had the creativity after many months of staring into his blank slate to come up with a plan, and the backbone to make it happen.

It took some time, things do when you are doing them on your own.

There was a huge learning curve as well: He studied different types of topsoil to bring in so the trees we bought had enough room to branch out below ground. He tried to figure out what might actually survive the extreme Texas heat and our kids’ trampling.

It was truly beautiful when it all came together. I knew how proud he was to survey his work, and to have his vision create a space where we all found peace and rest.

And, yet, even in darned Texas heat, where you can’t grow a lot of things, you can grow weeds.

My husband and I would go out diligently every few weeks and sweat and rake and bend and pull while the kids enjoyed the air conditioning.

You see where this going.

We decided that we enjoyed this space as a family, and it was a gift to us and so our entire family would contribute to keeping it up. About once a month, we would call the kids down on a Saturday to put on their grubby clothes and hats, and set up the boom box. Then off to work we’d go. They complained, they made faces, and they grumbled about who was doing more.

We would work alongside of them, showing them how to use the rake, how to scoop and talk about how lucky we were to have our own little piece of the world that was all ours.

My husband bought them their own individual weed pullers and gave them a section to focus on, and a goal. But always, always he insisted we finish together.

They took a lot of water breaks, but they were bent over beside us, not realizing is as their grumbling turned into humming to the music we had playing.

No one likes weeds. No one wants to be out in the hot sun and pull them.

When my kids grow up and enter college and later the work force, I want them to know how to be visionaries.

I want them to understand the work it really takes to get there — to know how to focus on a goal and to finish no matter what.

Hopefully they’ll remember it’s OK to take a few water breaks, enjoy the music along the way and to remember to stand back and gaze at the job they completed — and be thankul.


Jennifer Wizbowski lives in Excelsior with her husband, and tween daughter and teen son. She writes for Minnesota Parent in print every monthy and occasionally online. Send questions, comments and story ideas to jwizbowski@mnparent.com.