This blog post is an excerpt from the chapter titled, “A Learning Experience.”
One beautiful spring day, Michelle brought me some tulips. It never occurred to me to ask where she got them. Strapping on her bicycle helmet, our petite eight-year-old daughter hurried back outside to ride her scooter. Up and down the sidewalk she coasted.
Meanwhile, the homeowners viewed the destruction of their beautiful garden in horror. Believing that some malicious teenager had vandalized their property, they filed a police report. Once the officer left their home, they set out to find the villain who stole their prize-winning flowers. When they reached our house, they spotted Toby doing yard work and asked him if he knew anything about their missing tulips.
Remembering that his little sister had brought home tulips, he ran to find me. Floyd joined the neighbors outside and strolled down to their house to inspect their tulip-less garden. Indeed,
Michelle had plucked every last one, root and all. I hurried to find her. A couple of minutes later, I walked down to their house, my young daughter trailing me on her scooter. The wife was livid, but the husband took one look at our little girl and changed his tone.
Tearfully, Michelle apologized. We explained to her that she must not go into other people’s yards and pluck their flowers without permission, and she promised she wouldn’t do it again.
Floyd offered to pay for the damage or replace the tulips, whichever they preferred, but the husband said, “Don’t worry about it.”
Two days later, around dusk, there came an unexpected knock at the door. The couple’s son brought Michelle her own garden kit so she could grow her own flowers. Floyd helped her plant them. Just as they started to sprout, she plucked them all. They weren’t even flowers yet.
That summer, still on unemployment, Floyd decided to take a quick jaunt up to northern Wisconsin to visit his family while he had the time. With Jamie visiting friends in Arizona, he took Toby and eight-year-old Michelle along.
Pulling into a remote rest area, Floyd never considered that his young daughter had never been in an outhouse before. Michelle trotted into the ladies restroom and quickly returned to her dad.
“Dad, we have a real problem here,” she said. “You should see the women’s restroom.”
Floyd and Toby, now a teenager, had no desire to investigate that “real problem” in the women’s restroom. Floyd suggested Michelle use the men’s restroom since the rest area was deserted anyway. When Michelle entered the men’s room, she said, “See? You have the same problem in here. There’s nothing but a big hole and no way to flush!”