I found an advertisement for weed control hanging on my daughter’s front door. Pictured on it was a man in a green superhero’s costume claiming to be Weed Man. I suppose if there can be a Spiderman and an Ant-Man there can be a weedy superhero too. I handed the advertisement to five-year-old Punkybean to look at when she came to the door. She wanted to know who Weed Man was.
“He’s the superhero who kills weeds,” I told her.
“But I don’t even know what a weed is,” she declared, flinging her arms wide for emphasis.
That was a new one for me. In the course of life, one doesn’t often find oneself needing to explain the nature of weeds. I hadn’t ever given it much thought.
“Weeds are the plants that invade the lawn and kill the grass,” I explained, trying to keep to the superhero side of the fence. “They are the bad guys—like dandelions.”
Punkybean’s face fell. “But I like dandelions,” she said.
“I know; they’re pretty aren’t they?” I said quickly. “Lots of weeds have flowers that are pretty, but if you let them grow in the lawn they will eat up all the grass, so Weed Man comes when you call him and eats up all the weeds.”
I was getting in over my head and with other grandchildren vying for my attention, it was the best I could do at the moment. It was a lamentable way for a five-year-old to find out that some people view dandelions as pernicious; I wish I could have broken the news to her more gently. As I was ordering the troops at bedtime, however, I noticed she had hung the advertisement in pride of place on her bedroom door.