2.20.2011

Regarding Orchids

My dad has an amazing gift with plants and my mom is pretty great with them, too.  My house growing up was filled with all types of flora.  Sadly, I did not inherit this gift.  I used to hate when they would leave me alone for a few days and I had to water them all.  It was a complicated schedule with different things needing to be watered at different times, and some got plant food and some didn't.  I never killed anything, but I probably got close.  Needless to say, I never acquired many plants of my own.  But that didn't mean people didn't give them to me.  The few plants I did receive often died early on, as I forgot to water them.  Those that lasted more than a month were those that could survive a desert climate--days or weeks without watering, followed by tons of overwatering based on guilt for previously forgetting and concern about when the forgetting would happen again.

And so it was with trepidation that I accepted my friend Maria's birthday present four years ago-a phalaenopsis orchid.  I had admired her collection of them and so she gave me one of my own.  It was beautiful, but I was certain I would kill it.  After all, as I understood it, orchids are difficult plants to grow.  Maria assured me that I could do it and, surprisingly, I managed to get it to bloom a second time before the year was over.  That seemed to be the end of my success.  Even though it grew new leaves and appeared healthy, it didn't bloom again.  I was disappointed at the lack of flowers, but hey, at least it was still green and growing.  That was something.  So, I let myself be content with the knowledge I hadn't killed it.  Then, something odd happened.  It sprouted a keiki--another orchid plant.  Apparently, I couldn't make it happy enough to flower, but I could make it happy enough to reproduce.  In fact, over the years, it has sprouted 3 new orchids.

As excited as I was that I had managed to do better than simply not kill the plant, I was not a fan of this whole reproduction thing.  I was now the proud owner of four non-flowering plants that I had to manage not to kill--it had been hard work simply not killing one.  I actually started to get irritated with the plant when I would see it was making another keiki.  I gave one away to my dad, but I still had three.  In an effort to try and force the plant to flower, I didn't remove the last keiki from the original orchid's growing stem.  My reasoning was that at least it couldn't make another one while one was still attached.

Well, color me startled when something odd starting growing out of the keiki.  Not another plant!, I shouted internally.  No, actually, it was a growing stem.  My first!  Not only that, it started to make buds!  And this week, of all the crazy things, the keiki bloomed!  So far only one of the two blooms has opened, but that by itself is crazy good.  I think I can now retire my title as plant-killer.  Yay!

So, what does all of this have to do with children--i.e., why is this story in my blog?  I realized that I can care and nurture living things that are known to be difficult.  And, although I don't necessarily do things the way anyone else would, it doesn't mean I'm not doing a good job or that I won't be successful.  Finally, it's a reminder to take pleasure in small, unexpected things.  So, whether it's orchids, or babies, or something else entirely, I am working on remembering that I can learn new things, accomplish new achievements, and enjoy small victories.  And, hopefully, it's a lesson I can pass on to Lil' Bit.

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