beware the gardening class teacher

Summertime is here, and while my two boys are in day camp more often than not, I’m taking my two-year-old daughter to whatever story hour or drop-in soccer class we can build a morning around. Yesterday, we attended our first gardening class at the local children’s museum, which advertised itself as right up Maggie’s alley:

Find out why seeds are sleeping and how we can wake them up to become plants and vegetables!

Awesome. Since I have the exact inverse of a green thumb, this would be educational for both of us.  We got there a few minutes early so I could spackle her with SPF 50 before we headed outside into the heat-index-of-102 morning.  (Yes, I’m still using the “bad” sunscreens, at least until they run out.) 

I knew we were in trouble as soon as the instructor joined us at the garden gate. “Brandon” was six foot three, bearded like Brad Pitt on vacation in Aix-en-Provence, and had dreadlocks down to his waist that were “dirty” blond in every sense of that word. 

Maggie and the other two-year-olds backed away from him, their mouths in wordless O’s of horror.

“Come, join me in my garden,” Brandon murmured.

Now, Brandon seemed like an awfully nice fellow, but really I think the children’s museum should have posted a disclaimer on their website, or at least on their front door: 

WARNING: Gardening instructor looks like this and your children will be horrified

Not only did Maggie refuse to touch the strawberry plants or the worms Brandon dug up, she refused to touch the ground at all, spending the entire class digging her fingernails into my T-shirt so I would not under any circumstances put her down, lest Brandon the Cyclops pick her up and devour her, bones and all. 

Brandon’s other shortcoming was a utter cluelessness as to the difference between a two-year-old and, say, a sixth grader. He asked lots of leading questions like this one:

BRANDON: What is broccoli?

The children stare.

BRANDON: Is it a root? Is it a bush?

Blank stares.

BRANDON: … it’s… “cruciferous,” isn’t it.


BRANDON: What do we call it when we add worms to dirt to break it down?

Blank stares.

BRANDON: … we call it “composting.” I’m sure you’ve heard that word.

The other moms and I exchanged a nervous glance. We wouldn’t have gotten that one, either.

Ever since yesterday, Maggie has been saying “I not going to gardening class” under her breath, a sort of “Expectus Patronum” against the evil she is certain awaits her next week at the children’s museum. Four-week class, prepaid. Again: awesome.