The Garden Path: Henry kids were orderly, polite
By JIMMY WILLIAMS
Posted: Tuesday, July 26, 2011 6:38 pm
The Messenger 07.26.11
“Anybody who hates kids can’t be all bad.” —W.C. Fields
Fields was the funniest guy who ever lived, bar none. He claimed to be an atheist, but was seen reading a Bible not long before his death. Asked why an atheist would do that, he replied, “Looking for loopholes.” (There aren’t any, by the way.)
Anyhow, I don’t hate kids. Well, not all of them. As a matter of fact, let me tell you of a group of the finest examples of well-mannered children I have met in a long time.
These boys and girls, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders or thereabouts, were from Henry School. Their teacher, Debbie Kennon, called a few weeks ago and asked if they could take a tour of our garden as part of a summer enrichment program. They also would be visiting Lee Academy for the Arts and other points of interest throughout the summer.
Well, of course I said yes. I mean, what else could I do? I didn’t want to get W.C. Fields’ reputation of (ostensibly, at least) hating kids.
Then I got to thinking, despite the usual warning from My Assistant not to do it. Thinking, that is. She warned me, as she has many times before, that my thinking often leads to trouble.
Well, my thinking led to the question of what on earth could I do to keep the attention of the youngsters for an hour or so? I still remember, miraculously, that I was once a kid myself. A garden tour in the summer months, when there were fish to catch and birds to poach with my B-B gun, would have been torture.
On the fateful day, the school bus rolled into our driveway, and the teachers, some other adult chaperones and the kids all piled out. No pulling pigtails, no pinching of anybody’s ears (or other things), no backtalk and no boys with hidden snakes to terrorize the girls.
I was amazed. They actually allowed the teacher to introduce them and herself without interrupting and running wild. Upon entering the garden proper, they actually listened as I told of its history and described some of the plants there. They were especially enamored of a couple of topiary boxwoods we have, one carved into a peacock (or turkey) and the other into a rabbit.
Kids are drawn to water. Our two little ornamental pools brought a lot of comment and nobody even jumped into them. Amazing.
When viewing our flower borders, rock gardens and woodland path with hostas, ferns and other shade lovers, nobody ran amok and smashed down any plants. Nobody climbed onto the numerous fragile old benches to use as a launching pad for a crash landing.
Nobody interrupted the teacher or any other leader of the day. They raised a hand when wanting to ask a question. A half hour into the event, nobody had to go to the bathroom or water fountain or asked for a popsicle.
When we neared the waiting bus, there was no mad dash to beat anyone else and boarding was orderly and mannerly. Amazing.
From Poor Willie’s Almanack — During the 37 years at our garden, most damage has not been from six- or eight-legged creatures, but from four-legged ones, i.e. deer, coons, squirrels and rabbits. And, occasionally from two-legged ones. Not this time. Hurray for Henry School and its leaders.
Editor’s note: Jimmy Williams is production superintendent at The Paris Post-Intelligencer, where he also writes this column.