Hello, It's Me, Aloe

: Tracy Beckerman on

According to some experts, it's advisable to practice taking care of something living before you have kids. A lot of people start out with a pet. But before you have pets, you might need to first be able to keep a houseplant alive. And if you find you really stink at this caretaking thing, you might even want to take one step back beyond that and start with an amoeba.

Before we plunged into parenthood, my husband and I felt confident we could move beyond the single-celled organism phase and start with a houseplant. So, we looked up which plants are supposed to be especially hearty and decided on an aloe plant.

And then I named it George.

"I think George needs to be watered," I said to my husband. "His soil is dry."

"How do you know the plant is a 'he'?" he said.

"He leaves his socks on the floor," I replied.


Meanwhile, I really had no idea whether George was thirsty or not. George was a succulent, like a cactus, and I had read that they should be watered deeply but infrequently. However, they did not say how frequently infrequently was. I wondered how taking care of this plant would truly help me know how to care for a newborn, other than being able to tell when my child needed to be watered and if the baby would grow better in direct or indirect sunlight.

"The website says after we repot George, we should ignore him for a week or so," my husband said, reading from "The Care and Feeding of Your Succulent."

"You mean, like, exclude him from conversations and pretend he's not there?" I said. "That's not very nice. And besides, I think it might affect his self-esteem."

"They meant not to water him so he doesn't get root rot."


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