I crouched a little lower to the ground, trying to get a better look. The way the light hit the blades of grass, I found it really hard to identify what I was supposed to be pulling up and what should stay. I looked up and down the side of the stairway to see if I could spot a pattern. "Whatcha doing?" came a small voice. I looked up to see a kid no older than five standing in an over-sized t-shirt over me.
"Pulling out the weeds," I replied. He bent down and started grabbing at blades of grass. "Yep, just like that." He then grabbed for the monkey grass, which we were trying to keep. "Nope, not that one. They want to leave that one there." This discussion went on for another five minutes or so, with the child usually returning to grab the same plant. I pointed out the small leaves for him to grab, and finally it clicked. "Is this a leaf?" became D.D.'s (as I learned his name) tagline.
We were at the elementary school for Hands on Nashville Day, an annual volunteer work day at area schools. I was half asleep when I got there, so I left the orientation and went to look for the mulch pile. Even asleep, I wagered that I could take care of some sort of manual labor. What I had not counted on is that before the mulch can be put down, the weeds have to be pulled.
So, there I was: a colorblind guy trying to pick out which plant described as a "lighter green" should be kept while trying to educate a young child on what little I had just figured out. "Good job D.D., you're doing a good job," came a voice. I looked up to see another young boy coaching on his younger brother. His tone and cadence were obviously emulating an adult, but it made me chuckle a bit given that our new-found supervisor was obviously making his rounds.
"Is this a leaf?" came again, distracted quickly by a cricket that hopped out of the plants. The boys' father came over and gave both some more specific instructions, mostly to "leave that man alone." I said D.D. was a big help, and went on to grab a rake to spread out more of the mulch.
After an hour or so, I went back inside to look for Samantha. We did some touch up paint and then headed back home for an evening of Saturday Night Live and its reruns. As we do.