Guest Author - Siobhain M Cullen
I am four years old and its Mommy's birthday and I have a Grand Plan! Mommy is treating herself to a late lie-in and Daddy is treating her to breakfast in bed. I watch him, round-eyed as he lays out a pretty tray - a lacy cloth, flowery china teacups, a cut glass tumbler of freshly-squeezed orange juice. It looks so purty and I am convinced Mommy will think so too. To add the final touch of finesse, Daddy plucks a fresh young rosebud from the front porch and pops it in a tall-stemmed bud vase. The crowning glory, it floats and twirls in the gentle breeze as we climb the stairs. Daddy gets a big, big kiss and hug from Mommy and I can see her eyes shine. I want her to love me too. I slide my gift behind my back and decide to hide it downstairs. It isn't nearly finished yet, I decide. There is something lacking in the presentation.
I scramble down off the bed, plonk down onto the rug and head at top speed for the garden, where I know all Mommy's favorite blooms are. I know they are her favorites because she spent all last winter looking forward to watching them slowly unfold. Some of them are from bulbs we planted together in the soil in the Fall, I remember proudly, my chest swelling. How she had smiled at me gently and gratefully, her soft curls dancing in the breeze as she wiped some earth from her face with the back of her wrist. I had patted the dirt back down softly over the tops of the bulbs for her, as she dropped them one by one into the holes she had dug with the bulb-planter I had given her for Christmas.
I reach the end of the path, but my boots don't feel quite right. Each one seems to be pointing the wrong way. Did I get them on right? I am too busy trying to decide where to start with my Grand Plan to stop and check. I try to make a decision, gazing at the tulips first. They have lovely big heads with fine tips pointing towards the sky on their temptingly straight stems. I pull the head off one of them and the stem snaps satisfyingly in my chubby fingers. That was fun! I pull another and another but only the flower heads come off, leaving the stems behind, starkly empty in rows. I wipe the sticky green juice on my new pyjamas and look around.
The next consideration is what to put them in. Mommy's hanging basket is the right shape and size. We filled it with flowers yesterday for Grandma, but I am convinced I can put it all back, and after all I am only borrowing it. I tip out all the compost onto the patio and stuff the tulip heads in. They look swell, in shades of of purple, pink and red. Some have bright yellow stamens, like sunshine, and others have large glossy black patches. I tear open a few more into single petals and scatter them over the top to make a pretty pattern, like on Mommy's teacups. Somehow, the basket still looks very empty. I need more blooms. It would look best if it were filled right to the brim.
I cast my eyes around the garden again, with my hands on my hips, just like daddy does when he's doing something really important.
I notice some Pansies but they are way beyond Mommy's compost heap. I tramp through the coffee grounds and old eggshells in my new pyjamas to get to them. It doesn't smell too good but Mommy's worth the effort. Soon the basket is glowing again, now with new colours. I trail it behind me bump, bump, bump and pull the last heads off the last flowers. I see some earwigs and beetles on them and I dont want to leave them homeless so I let them come too, in the basket. Also, a worm looks kind of lonely. I hide him under the cool petals too, like Mommy does, so the sun doesn't dry him out and kill him. He will be a nice pet for her . She likes worms. They are our friends. She said so, I heard her. It looks like the Ugly Bugs Ball in there I dream, as I tramp back across Mommy's new cream carpet.
I struggle up the stairs, trying to steady myself with the palm of my hand against the stair wall, recently painted in cool neutral tones. My hands are slippery though, because of the mud and I am hot and sticky from all my hard work. Clunk, clunk, clunk - the basket is still banging along behind me. Small chips of white paint flick off the handrail and leave a trail down the stairs. I retrieve my gift from the landing window and I can't wait to present it, triumphant, on its beautiful bed of garland flowers. I can't wait to see Mommy's face.
But those muddy boots are my undoing. Mommy and Daddy are reading the Sunday Papers and they look up as I thrust my Gift Presentation towards Mommy's new silky bedcovers, not watching my two left feet tripping over the edge of the rug......
Two days and two trips to the garden centre later, I hear my first Words Of Wisdom as my parents cuddle me and say "It's the thought that counts!"