Sammy’s Weed Garden: Discovering Unexpected Beauty

Fri, Apr 26, 2024

My eldest son’s name is Sammy. 

He’s 8 years old and he loves nature. All of it. He loves plants, animals, bugs, sticks, rain, mud, rocks, gems, digging, sunshine, stars, and anything else you could possibly think of as existing within the confines of “nature.” He also loves weeds. 

We have a big back yard (for Phoenicians), which requires a lot of landscaping. In one corner of the backyard in particular, the weeds get really bad. They can shoot up to being waste-high in no time. This is the area of the yard our dining room looks out to, so it’s impossible to ignore. 

The problem: Sammy loves the weeds. He calls it his weed garden. He will regularly go out and tend to his weed garden. He showers them with water, kind words, and soft caresses. 

We have a “real” garden that he’s equally attentive to. But, to him, there’s no difference between the two.

At one point, a well-meaning landscaper accidentally (but definitely on purpose) took a weed wacker to Sammy’s weed garden. He was devastated. I can still hear his little voice, screaming repeatedly at the top of his lungs, “Who did this?!” He cried for hours, absolutely inconsolable. 

I felt like this was my signal that enough is enough, so I started to try and reason with him. I explained that weeds were parasitic and actually hurt the good plants. I told him that weeds don’t yield the same value as the good plants and didn’t serve the same positive purpose.

He refused to be reasoned with. I finally blew up. I told him he was being unreasonable, this was a silly thing to be crying over, everyone in the world kills their weeds, he wasn’t listening to logic, etc. etc. I was loud, mean, aggressive, and condescending. He refused to back down.  

Then, my 8-year-old took me to school. 

He marched me out to his weed garden, plucked a leaf from one of the small shoots sprouting from the ground, and then walked over to a nearby tree and plucked a leaf from it. They were exactly the same. I was blown away that he spotted that. 

He showed me how some of his weeds would flower and how others attracted bees. I suddenly started to see the weed garden from his vantage point, and it was beautiful. We started to use image search to figure out what we were looking at; they weren’t technically “weeds” at all. 

I had been conditioned to consider any plant that grows anywhere I didn’t specifically intend for it to grow as a weed.

So, as these plants sprouted up in places that weren’t perfectly manicured and landscaped, I labeled them weeds and angled for their destruction. My son saw differently.

He took the time to really appreciate the beauty of what he was looking at. And, even in the face of his father explaining “the truth,” stood his ground and refused to abandon his convictions. It was bravery personified. 

I wish with everything inside of me that I could be more like my son.

Not too long after, I had some friends come over to the house to hang out. One of them decided to be a dick, as only friends can do, and asked if I needed any help pulling the weeds. I laughed it off, of course. Little did he know, to pull the weeds at our house, he’d have to fight me first. 

Have you found weeds that weren’t weeds in your life? 

Are there things you’ve been conditioned to believe that you suddenly realized weren’t true at all? I’d love to know what they are!