Growing Like Weeds

July 5, 2022

If dandelions were hard to grow, they would be most welcome on any lawn.

-Andrew V. Mason

 After a couple of summers of drought, we have had a wet cool spring. It seems like all of the plants that may have gone dormant through the dry weather have come back with a vengeance. It’s nice to see everything green again!

Of course the dry weather never did stop the weeds from growing, lol. They come rain or shine.  Like most home owners, I have waged a yearly war on the plant life that spontaneously sprouts in my flower beds and between the paving stones on my driveway. I have to say, I have developed a grudging admiration for the weeds in my yard, in fact someone gave me a poster that hung in my classroom for years that said, “Dandelions are my favourite flower because they refuse to stop growing.”

I realize that last statement may be considered to be a form of sacrilege in our suburban communities, but hear me out.  Weeds, including dandelions, have many good qualities. In fact, one of my hopes for the children in our care is that they become more weed-like. Certainly, we have all heard it said that our children are growing like weeds,  as evidenced by last season’s summer clothes that are woefully short on lengthened limbs. However, it is more than a weed’s capacity for physical growth that makes me admire them.

Weeds have the ability to thrive in even the most adverse conditions. They can find nourishment in the sketchiest of soil conditions, sprouting where there seems to be no soil at all. Chemicals will stop them temporarily, but as soon as you stop using them the weeds will resurge with new vigour. You can try digging them out, but their roots grow deep into the soil. And those roots are strong! Even if you use all the force you can muster, they break off and grow again from the piece that is left behind. Like them or not, they are a part of the natural ecosystem, interacting with all sorts of other organisms. They certainly don’t need us to provide them with anything.

Our children, and all of us, need the qualities that the weeds posses intrinsically: persistence through difficult conditions; a deep rootedness that keeps us  grounded;  the resilience to rise again after being broken down by forces beyond our control; a connectedness to community; the desire to keep growing and learning through life;  and, eventually, the ability to be independent. Unlike weeds, these traits need to be cultivated in our children. That is why we have gathered into this community. Our school is a place to nurture our children and it is our call as parents and teachers to do this good work (tend the soil, fertilize and prune when necessary). In doing this work we help our children grow to their fullest potential.  It is a  monumental task and the growth can be so incremental that it may seem as if  there is no growth at all.  It is only in looking back, as we  do when a year finishes, or we come to a milestone in our lives, like finishing  our time at  the school, that we realize just how far our children have come; stronger,  more persistent and increasingly independent.  Hopefully, their experience of community  here will inspire them to  be community builders.  We can’t tell yet, the fruits of our labours will come in their own due time.

In the meantime, I will continue to wage war in my yard. I suppose I have been procrastinating long enough and it is time to wade back into that garden of mine. In case you are wondering, the weeds are winning.


Christine McInnis