The giant crabapple tree in our backyard is finally in bloom — a month later than normal, granted, but in bloom nonetheless, its delicate white flowers wafting their subtle fragrance through the weekend air, shedding their petals slowly onto the lawn.
So of course what the boys are doing is whacking away at the tree with a garden rake and booting a soccer ball in amongst the branches in an effort to knock down as many petals as possible. They have a friend over — another neighbourhood kid — and he is helping with the flower massacre when he is not trying to set the deck on fire using the sun’s rays and a magnifying glass.
I’m witnessing all this from the kitchen, where I’m scrambling eggs for the three of them. I’m vacillating between the three “As”: annoyance (The tree is in bloom like this for only a few days – can’t they just leave it in peace?), amusement (Those crazy, creative kids!), and acceptance (This is what kids do. At least they’re playing outside and not watching cartoons.)
“Mama?” Rowan comes in through the screen door and hands me a sprig of crabapple blossoms. “These are for you.”
A wave of pure love for him washes over me as I tuck the flowers behind my left ear. “Thank you, honey.”
“Can I have sour cream and salsa on my eggs?”
And then he’s back outside, and in the next minute the three boys decide that what would be a really good idea would be to sell the flowers to all the neighbours. Fifty cents a bunch! Listening to them, I groan inwardly (maybe also outwardly), because I’m already envisioning the overexcited kids running in and out of the house, door slamming behind them as they make and change plans and shout over each other. I’m already rolling my eyes as I imagine the multiple discussions I’m about to have around the fact that, “No, you cannot go door to door and ask the neighbours to buy the flowers that grow in our very own backyard.” And one kid wants me to make a sign and another one is trying to find something out of which to build a table, and another is now dragging the cooler up from the basement to use as a table and Isaac is shrieking “Flowers for sale! Give us all your money!” up and down the street even though he’s been told is not allowed to yell on the street (“It’s ADVERTISING!” he protests.). Part of me wants to applaud their entrepreneurial spirit, while another part of me cringes at the thought of the racket they’re trying to run, coaxing quarters out of neighbours. Why does everything have to be for sale? Why can’t you just give some flowers away? I want to ask, and at the same time I’m marvelling at the innocence of children, how enamoured they are of their plans, the way Isaac thinks that this will make him rich. RICH!
I love my children, but sometimes they are tiring.
And then, thankfully, it’s time to leave for Rowan’s soccer game, and — even more thankfully — it’s Rachel’s turn to take them, and soon all of the chaos will stop for a couple of hours, during which time I will write this post about all the conflicting desires and emotions that come with bringing these small, wild humans into your life. But first, I have to help Rowan get his soccer cleats laced really, really tight.
“Um, Mom,” he says, looking at the flowers still tucked behind my ear as I kneel over his foot, “You owe us fifty cents for those.”
“Nice try,” I tell him. “Nice try.”