The Leaves

Jimmy’s parents are having marriage problems, but they’ll sort it out. Mum’s trying to stay positive. It’s a sunny day and Jimmy’s in the park with Mum picking fallen wattle branches. They’ll look great in a vase! They’ve nearly picked enough when Mum sees the gossipy lady from the office power-walking in the distance.

The gossipy lady attacks with predatory small talk. Then, the noisy invader turns her attention to Jimmy.

“Wow! You’re a big five-year-old.” She says patronisingly. Turning back to Jimmy’s mum she continues “I heard about his father. Terrible news.”

A classic tactic. Suggest the worst and the victim will freely give up the truth to clarify, thereby revealing the juicy secret. The gossipy lady delivers the clincher: “I know it’s tough when your husband LEAVES you.”

Jimmy’s mum is about to deliver the forbidden fruit of truth, but Jimmy thinks quick. Holding up the wattle branches he shouts the trivial fact that will preserve his mother’s esteem. “This wattle doesn’t have LEAVES, it has PHYLLODES.”

Mum uses the distraction to excuse herself, and as the duo departs, Jimmy delivers the final blow. “And I’m not five. I’m Seven!”

T.

An Explanation

Wattle is a common flowering tree in Australia. Its flowers are usually bright yellow, and its branches look great in a vase. It stays fresh for ages too! If you talk to a botanist, they’ll tell you that one notable aspect of wattles is that most varieties don’t technically have leaves. What they really have are flattened leaf stems called phyllodes, which look and function like leaves. The Acacia Leprosa in the picture above is a perfect example.

Little Jimmy must have picked up this knowledge from his dad one day, and blurted it out at just the right moment to save the day. Go Jimmy!

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