The Red Pot

I don’t have a green thumb, and I am not very domestic, but I do love planting flowers in my big red pots each spring. I love selecting the right mix of plants and flowers, choosing something with height in the back, something that will grow to spill over the edge in the front, and colorful flowers in between. The pots are on either side of our front door and it is fun to change it up for the season, with mums in the fall and garland for Christmas. The pots and their seasonal foliage have decorated our porch for many years.


And then…my dog decided that the pots make great daytime retreats. He started digging up my pots last year and would snooze the day away in the comfy, cool dirt that was left after he dug out my beautiful plants and flowers. I was so mad, and Charlie knew it. Everytime I pulled into the driveway or opened the door, he would scuttle out of the pot and look at me sheepishly. This picture of the culprit was hard to get, but here is the proof.


I wasn’t so much upset about the fruits of my labors being strewn around the porch, I was mostly mad because I love watching the flowers and plants grow and because the pots look great on the porch–when they are blossoming. A pot of dirt? Doesn’t look nearly as good adorning our front door.

So, what were my options? Here are a few I considered:

  1. I could wage a war with Charlie over my pots. I could scold him, spray the pots with dog repellant spray,  and I could continue to refill them whenever he dug them up, hoping that someday he would learn his lesson. (I can hear all you dog owners laughing at this option, knowing who would win that war.)
  2. I could throw the pots away, I could give up something that I love for my dog. I could decorate my front door with something else that would not be as comfortable for Charlie. But then, both Charlie and I lose. He loses out on his daytime resting spot, and I lose out on my beautiful pots.
  3. I could complain about the situation to anyone who would listen. This option sometimes feels good in the short run. In the long run, people might turn the other way when they see me coming, fearing that I will add to their already heavy load with my complaining.
  4. I could figure out a win/win solution. I could get creative and come up with a way for me to keep my beautiful pots on my porch AND allow Charlie to use them for his naps.

To be honest, for a bit of time, I chose option 3. I just couldn’t believe the audacity of my dog. We live in the middle of the woods and there is sand and dirt everywhere. Why did he choose my beautiful pot as his dog bed?

Then, I thought about realistic solutions that would be a win/win for both Charlie and me. Rather than planting in the dirt in the pot, I decided to try putting a potted plant in the pot. That way, I could put potted plants or flowers in the pots when I am home and wanting my porch to look nice, like when we have people over. During the day, when Charlie wants a good spot to lounge, I remove the plants so he can use the pots.

So, why do I share this story? Because win/win solutions are often just one outside-the-box (or outside-the-pot) idea away. We encounter problems with students, colleagues, families every day. With creativity and a willingness to be different, we often can come up with solutions that allow others’ needs to be met AND accomplish our mission. I would love to hear some creative win/win solutions you have come up with in your classroom. Please share in the comments or tag me using #SerendipityEDU.

The history of discovery is full
of creative serendipity.
—Tom Kelley




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