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Shaving shrubs and keeping kids

Memorial Day taught me a simple lesson: There are some things that some of the female species never grow out of.

And that explains why parts of my yard look like an explosion in a six-year-old's Barbie salon.

You've all seen it: A well-intentioned trim that leaves Malibu Barbie looking like G.I. Jane, Sinead O'Connor or worse, a long-haired Dachshund with mange.

That's what the boxwoods and some of the other shrubs in my front yard look like: A bad haircut gone worse.

In the backyard, two larger bushes look like pieces of the set from the next Tim Burton movie. They are wooden skeletons standing like sentinels at the corners of my deck.

My wife - the keeper of the electric hedge clippers and the judge, jury and trimmer of all things green - says it's all part of her plan.

"Jay, we go through this every year," she sighed as we drove to drop another pick-up truck load of limbs and leaves. "You complain when we trim them, and then it's all better when they grow back. Don't you remember?"

Apparently not.

I must suffer from PTTS - Post Traumatic Trimming Syndrome. I think it blocks any memories of past yard skeletons.

At least I hope it does.

Now I just need to contract something that counteracts the "See, I told you so," that I know is coming later this summer.

Until then, look the other way when you pass by the house on the corner. I'm sure my naked plants will appreciate it.

Before we trimmed the trees, Miriam and I spent another night keeping the kids. In what was one last hurrah before the Curtis clan high-tailed it to their new home on Hilton Head, Breanna and Grayson - our niece and nephew - spent Friday night with us. And just like last time, it was Pop Tarts, Happy Meals at McDonald's and kids meals at Chick-Fil-A for everyone.

In between, there was laughter listening to a two-year-old attempt his ABCs, lots of hugs and even a pit stop at an abandoned store on Cobbham Road for Miriam, Bree and Grayson to dance the cha-cha when the right song came on the radio.

But what sticks out most in my mind was our failed attempt at teaching the kids to fish. (Their new condo has a fully-stocked pond within walking distance.) I knew we were in trouble when in the first two minutes Bree asked if it always took fish this long to bite.

Patience, it seems, is most lost on those with their whole lives in front of them.

A few minutes later, Bree and Grayson were up on the hill at my friend Tommy's house, climbing on the monkey bars and wearing out the swingset. And, I was holding a kids' Finding Nemo fishing pole waiting on a bite that never came.

I'll miss the rugrats (and their brother, Christopher, too), but all is not lost: Now I have another excuse to make a weekend run to the beach.

Like I really need an excuse.

Web posted on Thursday, June 1, 2006

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