The day I signed up for flower school, I was deliriously happy until I had to admit what I’d done.
The words flower and school have a similar rhythm to the words nursery and school, and I’ve always thought of flowers as toys. It felt like I was telling my friends and family I signed up for toy school.
I knew I’d have to explain that flower school involves much more than putting flowers in a vase.
I told my mom first because she loves me the most. Fortunately, she was in a deep Ambien sleep when I called to tell her the news.
“Hi Mom, I signed up for flower school today.”
“Oh! Me too, Honey,” she said, and went back to sleep.
Then I told my sister.
“I’m going back to school.” I eased in.
“Wow! You’re finally going to get that Masters in Creative Writing. I’m so proud of you.”
“Well, not exactly a Masters. I’ll be getting a little certificate with a picture of a daisy on the back that says, ‘You completed Session 1.’ And, instead of creative writing, I’ll be learning flowers.”
Next, I called my oldest friend, Beth. She is always honest with me about everything, but in a nice way. I thought it best to get her reaction before I moved on to telling my children.
“I signed up for flower school, today,” I said.
“I’m sorry, what?”
“Flower school. A school for flowers.”
“No, it’s not! They teach you a lot of things.”
“Let me save you some time. Fill up a vase with water and put flowers in it.”
“It’s not just about putting flowers in a vase! There are other things.”
“Like cutting the stems. And not stepping on them.”
“What else?” she asked.
“Well, there are clippers to be dealt with, and quick dip, which is a product that has to do with dipping, and we use ribbon. But just forget I even told you. You wouldn’t understand.”
I called everyone else on my contact list to yell at them before they could make fun of me. Some of my friends even said they wanted to take the class with me.
Unfortunately, the dates didn’t work out for them.
Some thought it was a phony phone call.
Eventually, it was time to break it to my children. I dropped it on them simultaneously by using the reverse psychology technique of self-mocking to avoid being mocked. I did it via text.
“Want to laugh?” I wrote.
“Sure,” they both wrote back.
“I signed up for Flower School. Isn’t that so so so funny?”
“No, that’s so cool. I’m so proud of you.” They both wrote back the exact same thing.
So I knew they were trying not to laugh.
My kids and I are forensic conversationalists. Nothing gets past us, despite the words that actually come out of our mouths.
I once had the following text exchange with my daughter.
Kim: Hi Mom. Do you really like the pajamas I got you for your birthday? Tell the truth.
Me: OH MY GOD!!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE them!!!!!!!
Kim: You can return them.
Me: Ugh! Thank you!!
Jesse has gotten to the point that he translates what I’m saying while I’m saying it.
When his girlfriend told us about a girl she saw on TV, who was addicted to bleaching everything- including herself- he sat there waiting for me to finish reacting so he could explain.
“I can’t believe that!” I said. “That is completely insane. I mean whoever that girl is she needs serious help. That is the sickest thing I ever heard!” My face turned bright red and everyone at the table turned to look at me.
“She’s just afraid I’ll accidentally drink bleach,” Jesse explained, which was spot on.
The translation of:
“Oh my God. That’s so cool. I’m so proud of you,”
Is the following:
“Oh my God. You’re so senile.”
After I told my kids, it became much easier to confess to everyone else.
One of my friends asked me if flower school was my way of pronouncing botany school.
“Yes, in a way it will be the study of botany, but not in a way that would be true.”
“So you’re not studying botany?”
“What is it then? Do you learn how to grow flowers? Or plant them? Or design gardens?”
“Not as much as one might think.”
It was at that moment that I understood that flower school wasn’t about what it’s not. It’s about doing something simple, something I really love.
“So what exactly do they teach you to do with flowers?” she continued.
“They teach you how to put them in a vase.”