My daughter had requested odd things in the past, so hearing this
statement wasn't beyond the realm of possibilities.
"As opposed to
a fire hydrant?" I asked, trying to respond as if her statement made
"A fire hydrant? No... Huh?"
I stared at her, trying to let her know without stating the
obvious. She was being vague and I was going to need a little more
than "I need a tree" to respond intelligently.
She got the message and started explaining... with a question.
"Well, you know my room?"
"Yes," I said. "I know your room well. Possibly better than I
want to know it."
"It needs a tree in it," she said.
"Is that so?" I was trying to receive the mental image she was
beginning to paint, but apparently I didn't have enough information
yet. I saw a ficus tree in the corner of her room between her
bookshelf and her laundry hamper.
"Yeah. A really big one," she went on.
"You mean tall?" Her ceiling only went up to 7 feet. A 7-foot
ficus couldn't be that hard to find.
"No. I mean fat, not tall." OK, that might be harder to find.
"A fat tree that isn't tall, huh?" I asked.
"Well, it can be as tall as my ceiling, but it has to be fat."
"Why does it have to be fat?" I asked, because I am a glutton for
"'Cuz I think if I had a tree in my bedroom, I wouldn't have room
for my dresser," she explained logically.
"That's true," I said, "but it doesn't explain why you need a fat
"The tree will have drawers for my clothes," she said, as if it
should make perfect sense to anyone.
"Oh, I understand now," I said, because that's what you say when
you don't understand.
The little ficus tree in my imagination was replaced by a segment
of tree trunk that looked like Owl's house in the Hundred Acre Wood.
The difference is that tree trunks that big belong in the Hundred
Acre Wood along with fat yellow bears that are addicted to honey,
stuttering piglets and stuffed donkeys who drop into a coma at the
slightest provocation. Tree trunks that big do not, under any
circumstances, belong in a 10-foot-by-10-foot bedroom.
[to top of second column]
Trying to instill some logic into my daughter without killing her
dream, I said, "You realize that if you have a tree that large, the
branches will start about 20 feet in the air.
"You don't want branches and leaves?" I asked.
"I will just paint those on my ceiling."
"That should be interesting," I said, when what I meant was, "Are
you out of your mind!?"
"I was thinking of a way to make grass grow on my floor, too."
"You have hardwood flooring in there!"
"Don't worry, Mom. I would cover it with plastic first."
Oh, in that case, we have nothing to worry about, I thought.
"I'm trying to make a nice garden in my room," she explained.
"Yes, I get that," I said. I pointed out her window. "Tell you
what: See that nice shady tree outside? Rather than going to the
trouble of cutting it down, building drawers in the trunk, painting
your ceiling and planting grass, why don't you simply take a lawn
chair out to that tree and sit under it all day?"
"There will be bugs," she complained.
"I see. OK, here's what you do: Find out how much it will cost to
move a 3-foot diameter tree with drawers into your room, paint a
mural on your ceiling, and plant grass on your hardwood floors."
"OK!" she said, excited.
"Then get on the Internet and figure out the best price you can
get for a bottle of bug repellent."
[By LAURA SNYDER]
Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist,
author and speaker. You can reach her at
or visit www.lauraonlife.com
for more info.