If I Needed Someone

"Resist the urge to rub your eyes or wipe your sweaty face with your pepper picking hand"

Now there's some good advice right there.

Go ahead, resist that urge.

Cause you know your gonna have it.

And the sweat is gonna trickle from your temple down the left side of your cheek and your gonna wipe it off by rubbing your shoulder against your face, but that's not gonna do the trick and your then gonna want to stop what your doing and wipe your entire face with the bottom of you shirt.

But the sun is overhead and you've been squinting for quite some time and that hand that has been gingerly snapping jalapeƱos is gonna inadvertently head directly toward your eye socket and then the rest is history. You are now the stupidest person in the world and your wife is ashamed for ever having loved you.

I've been reading a lot of gardening websites this spring, its becoming something of a hobby of mine to watch my plants grow and to make my own decisions as to their care. Previously my garden has been in the hands of my father-in-law, who has done a beautiful job, but works his own hours, decides what and where he wants to plant, decides where and when he wants to harvest, and shows up in my backyard while I'm still sipping coffee in my underwear.

Which is all fine.

I love the man and I suspect he doesn't find me totally disagreeable.

But this year I wanted to try my hand at my own garden. Plant the things I want to plant. Harvest when I want to harvest. Learn something new.

Or in the case of the opening piece of advice, learn something I could've logically figured out, even if by trial and error, but didn't have to cause I read it on some website.

I can resist that urge.

And don't get me wrong. My father-in-law has no intention whatsoever of allowing me to run this show on my own. He still pops by a least twice a week to tell me that my lawn needs mowing and to apply some MiracleGrow, cause my squash is clearly not doing as well as it should be.

Like us all, he is willing to give up some control, but will never give up being needed.

And that's not just a guy thing. Being needed is the core of our self worth, even if it is just ourselves that are in need.

As a parent, not being needed is one of the three major tragedies, right behind the death of a child and stepping on a lego.

Can't wait for them to leave the house, but agonize over all the things we never got the chance to teach them, to tell them, to remind them.

But not being needed is also one of the three great triumphs of parenthood, right behind college acceptance and knowing that there are five cry babies on your son's little league team and your son isn't one of them.

So few things are greater than those first seven steps, the first plunge into the pool, letting go of the bicycle seat.

Or in Vito's case, seeing a four foot high tomato plant rising from the armageddon that used to be his son-in-law's garden.

At least I hope he feels a sense of triumph. A sense of contentment as he lets my pepper picking hands do the plucking. And I'm sure he will watch carefully as I resist the urge to rub my eyes or my sweaty face just as he secretly dowses my anemic cucumbers with enough chemical fertilizers to feed a plantation.

And the thought occurs to me that we are never not needed. Nor are we ever not in need.

But the word "Need" requires some extra classification.

It's too strong. It implies desperation. It implies all or nothing. It even implies, to a great extent, weakness. We may define ourselves by our ability to provide, but we're just as likely to kill ourselves to avoid helplessness.

Which is sooooo weird! Cause we don't even really have to ask. The people who love us see us dog paddling and are more than happy to jump in untethered. Whether its my mom sending me to see a specialist or my father-in-law spritzing my arugula, everywhere I look someone is taking a little extra step to make my world better.

And they're not "Needed" so much as they are the blessing that comes with all the baggage that a family can manage.

We need to stop thinking of the word "Need" as the cape of the martyr and the scream of a victim and soften it's edges a bit in order to help and be helped.

To love and be loved.

Cause the best way to tell someone you love them is to juice their zucchini once in a while.

And remind them not to rub their eyes with their pepper picking hand.

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