Gardener’s Delight

I have written a lot lately about how Joshua is more vocal and demonstrative, and is having a greater say over what he does, where he goes , what he eats and even where he sits in a café. While I love that he is more involved in decision making, it has created a problem for us when we want to do something that does not suit him. This happened yesterday, when my husband and I wanted to look around the Open Gardens in a nearby pretty village. I realise that not many 21 year olds would be interested in this activity as they tend not to like scenery or gardening, but I had hoped that it would be busy enough that he would enjoy mixing with other people. It did not help that it began to rain in the afternoon, so it was not ideal weather for mooching around gardens when we set off.

So we decided to start with something to eat to get him on side and to give the rain a chance to fade away. The refreshments were in the village hall, all homemade cakes served by villagers and the vicar, whose church was going to benefit from the funds raised. Joshua enjoyed his chocolate cake and ate half of his Dad’s coffee cake too, so it was looking promising. It was only drizzling when we went back outside and paid for three tickets for the 16 gardens, even though we explained that we did not expect Joshua to tolerate all 16. He happily walked into garden number 5 which was the closest, and we were greeted by the homeowner and her collie. Joshua sat on her garden bench while my husband and I admired the dales view and her pretty cottage garden, which she explained had been her mother’s life work and she was now purely its caretaker. When we were ready to leave, Joshua tried to go through her back door and indoors and was cross to be told that was not what we were doing!

To be fair to Joshua, it must have seemed odd : we would go into the gardens of strangers, take a stroll and look around and then leave and repeat the process up to 16 times. We were never invited into the houses and never offered any refreshments, and only occasionally spoke to the home owners. he must have wondered what was going on really.

We dragged him around two more front gardens before we admitted that this was not his thing. So I sat on a bench in the village with him, chatting to other visitors and their dog, while my husband went to see the first garden on the map, which was at the far end of the village. When he came back he was in awe and sent me to look too, claiming that it was reminiscent of my parents beloved garden. It was indeed with its neat lawn, deep full flower beds and stone flagged patio, but in addition this garden had dry stone walls and a stunning view of the surrounding countryside. It took my breath away and I was overwhelmed by wishing my parents were there too, to see it as they would have loved this event. Mum came with us 6 years ago and we had such a special time. I shed a tear or two in that garden I have to admit.

We agreed a new plan as Joshua was digging his heels in; I sat in the car with him, with his music on while my husband viewed the next 5 gardens on his own and then we swapped and compared notes. Then we drove to the other end of the village and did the same thing again. The sun came out and so rather than sitting in the car, on my turn, I sat on a village bench with Joshua so that he could at least breathe the dales air and greet passersby.

I am glad that we went and that we stuck to our guns, even though it would have been nicer to have looked around the gardens together. The reality is that if we wanted to complete this garden tour, we found the only way to manage it, with Joshua in tow. Not every activity can, nor should be, about what Joshua wants to do as we are a family and each have a vote. So we came to a compromise, that suited us as best we could manage. The funny thing is that from the photographs that I took during the afternoon, he looks as though he is having a ball – let me assure you, when the camera was not on him, he was sulking!

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