Two memories are forever joined in my mind: the beauty and splendour of my mother's perennial peony bushes, and the wounding of my pride and a stinging sensation on my wee bottom.
It was a glorious summer day. A recent thunderstorm had left water droplets on the peonies in the side garden of our home and had washed away the ants who loved to wander among the leaves. The buds were full but not quite ready to bloom into fountains of fragrant pink petals.
At five years of age, I was seldom left to mind myself, but that day I had been. Mommy was inside the house, tending to my three-year-old brother, who on that particular day, I had named Brat.
All morning I had been hounding my mother, vying for her attention. She ignored me. “Michele, I’m too busy,” she said. “Your brother needs more help, he’s smaller than you.”
Well, I thought, everything was just perfect before he came along! I ran straight to the phone and picked up the receiver. “Sears?” I said. “Come get my brother. You can take him back. We don’t need him anymore.”
Looking back, I’m sure my mom must have thought that one was pretty funny. She used to order everything from the Sears catalogue, so naturally, I thought that was where everything came from.
After I got off the phone, she sent me outside with my favourite bucket and spade. I headed straight to the peonies. No ants, no wasps, just plenty of peony buds waiting to be made into a delicious peony pie. Or so it seemed to me.
I filled my bucket with water from the garden hose. I was good at that. I helped Mommy water the garden almost every day.
I harvested the peony buds, plopping them into the bucket one by one. T hen I took my spade and swished them around, the way Mommy taught me to mix things when we were baking.
One last swish and I sat back on the pathway, admiring my work. Mommy will be so pleased with my peony pie, I thought.
The slam of a door, the patter of feet, and Mommy appeared around the corner. She seemed in a hurry. Perhaps she had to pee. Before I could think another thought, I was pulled off the ground by my arms and catapulted onto my feet. Mommy grabbed my mixing spoon and began whacking me on my bottom. Tears streamed down my cheeks.
I guess Mommy didn’t like peony pie!
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