{ mom and me }

I was a high-maintenance child, especially during the hot Southern California summers when there was nothing to do. Since my mom was a school teacher, we would both wind up sitting around the house during those three months of ninety-degree weather, not wanting to do anything that involved going outside.

"Stir-crazy" could have been my middle name.

My mom used to think up chores for me to do to keep me out of her hair. I pulled the vines off the porch. I cleaned my room, the attic, and the garage. I probably would have done windows if there'd been a few bucks in it for me.

And when all that was done, and I was starting to get twitchy again, my mom had a moment of brilliance.

"Derek, you know the century plant in the back yard by the garage?" she asked.

My mind raced over my memories of the giant Godzilla cactus, the one with the two-inch spikes, the one that I remember being almost as big as me. "Yes?" I said hesitantly.

"Go chop it down," she said. "I'll give you five bucks."

And without a thought I was in the back yard, in the summertime heat, with a shovel, an axe, and a wicked grin.

{ fan }