Friday, November 24, 2017

But...the tomatoes...

When Andrew was much younger than he is now, he and his sister Katherine were sent out to clear out the old tomato plants from the garden. Now, forcing siblings to work together can yield several results: they can turn the task into a game and have a lot of fun working together, they can fight with each other and get nothing done at all, or they can turn the task into such a fun game that they get nothing done at all. From my experience, the last two options occur most frequently.

Andrew's not a very high-conflict person, so on this occasion, like many times before, he managed to turn cleaning up tomatoes into a game. Unfortunately, this game fell into category three and instead of ridding the garden of tomatoes, Andrew and Katherine made things worse. They started throwing rotten tomatoes at the house.

And, boy, was it fun!

Rotten tomatoes were sailing through the air like juicy hand grenades, exploding against the house with a satisfying *SPLAT!*

Who can hit the highest brick?

splat, splat, splat

Can we make a smiley face?

   splat    splat

splat           splat
  splat      splat

Which tomato makes the bigger spray radius?

splat  SPLAT

Things were going along swimmingly until Reid and Karen came to check on their progress and ruined all their fun (parents are such spoil sports). They both ended up getting trouble—and had to spray off the house in addition to clearing the garden—but as the older sibling, Andrew was expected to know better and got in double trouble. How dare he instigate such an obviously terrible activity with his younger sister?!

To this day he has never lived it down.

Whenever anyone feels Andrew's head is swelling a bit too big they'll say, "but the tomatoes." And whenever anyone feels picked on about a mistake they've made they'll say, "At least I didn't throw tomatoes at the house." No matter what he accomplishes in his life, his track record will forever be marred by this unfortunate (but incredibly fun) incident.

Our children know the story forwards and backwards.

And so it happened that when, on Tuesday afternoon, I took Benjamin outside to clear out the old tomato vines, he picked up a rotten tomato and, while eyeing it in his hand, said contemplatively, "I know we can't throw these tomatoes at the house...but can we at least throw them at the fence?"

"That does sound like fun," I admitted. "But I think we'd better focus on tossing them into the garbage can."

At least my very impulsive five-year-old called to mind his father's tomato story before he began chucking tomatoes all over the place, otherwise I'm sure we would have had a juicy mess on our hands!

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