I grew up in a village where we did mixed farming-growing crops and rearing animals. Anytime we moved a cow pen, I noticed that magnolias, stinging nettles, blackjacks and various species of amaranth would flourish in the fecund soils where the pen used to be. And so would wild weeds with no name.

Among these weeds would be a climbing plant with luxuriant leaves that had an offending smell. Which my grandma would single out, its smell notwithstanding, and tend it with her gnarled hands like her own baby.

With time, this plant would out-bloom the rest, its thousand tendrils raised to the heavens like the fingers of pious pilgrims. While the rest of the plants were struggling to reach our height, this one would outgrow them and give forth flowers- a testimony that a weed is but an unloved flower.

Finally, the plant would yield pumpkin-like fruits that weren’t edible. Grandma would harvest the round fruits of the various sizes and dry them. After that she would fashion several items from the round fruits or gourds.

As we sat around her feet, we marveled as grandma cut the small gourds into two and made kameni or small serving spoon. She would do the same with the medium sized ones and get kaihùri which is a bigger serving spoon. The uncut gourds would be filled with pebbles to make rhythmic shakers for the boys.

Halves of the bigger and elongated gourds would yield a utensil called gìitìrìra which translates to “pourer” or jug. Which grandma would give to my mum for domestic use. And some to the young girls to draw water from Boyo river that ran down our gorge.

The well-endowed gourds would become nyanja– a vessel for storing grandpas honey beer. Finally, the big ones with huge bottoms like socialites would become kinya – a vessel for storing her porridge. In short, the gourd plant yielded a vessel for every member of our family.

Grandma may have never taken to grand moralizing. But her act of tending the garden left me with immeasurable lessons. A weed is a plant that grows where it’s not wanted. Or rather, a plant that grows where people wanted something else to grow. But if its tended to with love, its yields can be bountiful, for its no longer a weed, but a flower.

We may be talking about weeds here, but we all know the many UNLOVED things the we can turn into flowers by tending after them. If we seek such weeds and tend at them with care, we’ll marvel as they magically turn into flowers.

Our children are flowers. But if they are unloved, they may turn out to be weeds which will offend the parents and society at large. To equip oneself with skills to tend after these flowers, parents need resources to help the children navigate the tricky seas of life.

One such resource is the awesome and practical book titled Parenting Teens with Love and Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay.From the first page, this book gives parents valuable insights into how teens think and feel differently than parents, and why they act the way they do. It also provides practical ways to head off arguments before they start, and how to encourage teens to think and act independently and responsibly. In short, it shows parents how to tend after their flowers.

This book is a must have for any parent. You can purchase this awesome resource by following on this link:


Gilbert Mwangi

Creative writer,dreamer,and Drum Major for all things true.

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