Of Babies, Boxwood and Bamboo

Aug 23, 2023 | Growing Life

Three weeks ago our first grandchild surprised us by coming into the world a month early, welcome Asher Scott! Countless friends have told us, “Being a grandparent is the most treasured time in life.” So many in fact, that we began to doubt this itty bitty generalization. With almost 34 years of marriage behind us, there have been many treasured times in life. Why or how could this one be even better? To wrap my mind around such a question we turn to one of the most trusted plots of answer, the garden.

While growing up, our family spent many wonderful vacations in Nashville, TN at the home of my cousins. My Aunt was a talented formal gardener. Everything was knotted boxwood, cascading herbs and trickling fountains. The nearby Cheekwood Estate served as her model and “Martin Boxwood,” long established and revered there, provided inspiration. I learned to dislike the acrid, baking in the sun and humidity smell of boxwood. Although its deep green eternal color and lovely leaf flatters a garden the plant smells like cat pee. 

When we finally could afford landscaping at our own home we planted a long row of tiny boxwood on either side of the front walkway, several inches apart. Wonder of wonders, you can grow Asian boxwood in the north that does not smell, but gives the same tidy effect. My husband and I babied these plants. It took about a decade for them to finally grow together and form a low hedge. We knocked the snow off them in winter and watered them consistently in summer. Our kids dreaded the “Go out and weed the front walkway” chore, but the boxwood deserved a clean flagstone walk. The plant grows about six inches a year in warm climates and less in cooler ones. It needs lots of trimming to promote filling-in growth. After a couple of decades the desired effect took hold and it looked dreamy in front of our home, providing an established french country welcome. A few months ago I drove by our former home (we moved away five years ago) and saw that several of the boxwoods had yellowed or died. Some were replaced with baby new ones, so the perfected look of our walkway was gone. Asian Boxwood has a life expectancy of 20 to 30 years so this should not have happened. Did it dry out in summer, suffer too much salting in winter? Who knows, but in 20 or 30 years I will be a much older grandma, and our new grandson will be in the prime of his life. God willing, he will not be yellowing, he will not be in decline. The majority of babying and tending will fall to his parents. We get to take in the beautiful view and watch him grow! Less work, more immediate benefits! Maybe that’s one of the reasons grandparenting is treasured.

I occasionally exchange panda videos with our youngest son, now the new dad!!!! (Can’t believe I’m writing this?) Together, we envy and laugh at these bamboo eating bumblers. We can’t get enough of them sitting all day mowing down vast swaths of the brittle canes, roots, shoots and leaves. When our son went to college at Belmont University in Nashville we began to notice that there is bamboo all over the place in that hot and wet town. The climate is perfect for it, but sadly too hot for pandas. A bamboo cane grows for only sixty days and takes three years to get established below ground. During this time it sends out massive amounts of roots which send up new canes. Our new grandchild is growing at a rate of 1 to 2 inches per month, not quite as fast as bamboo, but his growing season is much longer than 60 days! Getting to marvel at his growth without being consumed by laundry, spit-up, spraying SHOUT and non-stop changes and diaper cream and … you know the list, allows grandparents to focus on and appreciate every little thing their grandchild is doing and becoming. We are not thinking about anything else, like when do I go back to work or how am I going to pay the bills? Grandparenting is a time of unique, singular focus. Maybe that’s one of the reasons it’s treasured.

And now a bit about the treasure himself. Despite being born a month early he is doing everything he is supposed to be doing! He looks exactly like his mother. I think our son is handsome but his mother is gorgeous so that’s better. He rarely cries – how can this be? He is eating on an every three hour schedule. Did our kids do this? His hair is starting to lighten and get wavy. He is already looking fuller and chubbier, especially his full tummy, which translates to even more adorable and better sleep for his parents.

Dear God keep me from being one of those grandparents who brags endlessly about how brilliant and supremely gifted our grandchild is. I know this is impossible, because he is already finding his fingers and sucking on them and this usually happens at four months old so he is brilliant and supremely gifted and gorgeous at three weeks. Oh dear, I’m already doing it, but look at him! We are so thankful for this tiny but mighty blessing. To all our friends who told us about how special the grandparent world is, all we can say is Bravo! You are indeed, right.