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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Fistful of Weeds

image from oliviastravels.com
First, let me say I am no eavesdropper. I have enough drama/trouble/activity in my own life with five children .I really don't care to know yours (drama not kids). That being said, I overheard a disturbing conversation while dropping my child off at school yesterday.
As the children filed into the elementary building, bright eyed & bushy tailed, a little boy walked in with a fistful of dandelions. Proudly he presented his bouquet to his teacher. She graciously accepted the gift, patted his head and walked her class down the hall.

A second teacher observed the gift and leaned into another woman, looked annoyed and said, "I never accept dandelions! I mean I know it sounds harsh but students have to learn that dandelions are really weeds. Right?"

I was appalled.

You see, here's the great thing about children: they are children, innocent and full of life. Children are so trusting and simple. They have the ability we've long lost as adults - to see the beauty in something so common.

Of course dandelions are weeds! Isn't that evidenced by the millions of dollars homeowners desperately spend trying to ride their yards of pesky clover, creeping charlie or deep-rooted
dandelions?


But aren't dandelions also flowers, fun to pick and entertaining to blow? I can't imagine any scenario in which a five-year-old needs to be taught dandelions are weeds. They'll figure it out soon enough. How dare we rob a child the fun of gathering up a bouquet, the experience of blowing on the fuzzy seeds or hurry them along during a walk when they wish to stop and admire the soft yellow petals.

blog.thomaslaupstad.com
By the way, who taught us to hate dandelions? Haven't you driven along the highway and seen a field full of yellow and thought to yourself "It sure is beautiful"? I think we despise the weed for the same reasons we hate any other weed; we've been taught to. We've been taught by marketing ads with their glossy photos of perfect families enjoying a perfect lawn on a perfect day. We've been sold that anything short of a turf lawn is a 'problem lawn'.

Perhaps it ridiculous that we'll ever accept dandelions as anything other than weeds but could you consider that a bouquet of dandelions is more about the act of giving than it is about the gift?

A child who picks flowers has no regard for plant biology. They've yet been taught that roses are superior to the likes of dandelions or any other weedy flower commonplace this time of year. If a child has taken the time to collect flowering weeds for a bouquet it's because they are learning the basic etiquette of gift giving. To refuse this offering from an innocent, botany-ignorant child is to teach them that you don't value an act of kindness, only expensive gifts. This, my friends, is a very dangerous lesson to teach.
Interestingly, dandelions can have real meaning and purpose. I recently learned herbalists consider
the common dandelion a valuable herb with many culinary and medicinal uses. Turns out they are a rich source of vitamins A, B complex, C and D, as well as minerals such as iron, potassium and zinc. Dandelion leaves are often used to add flavor to salads, sandwiches and teas. In fact, some coffee substitutes use dandelion roots and the flowers are used to make certain wines.
flikr.com
Just remember this, whether you love dandelions or work feverishly to remove them from your lawn, children see them differently. And different can be good. Please don't scold a child for blowing dandelion seeds. Please accept with gratitude any bouquet you receive. For in that offering children remind us that beauty can be found everywhere. Even in a fistful of weeds.



This article originally appeared as a part of my Practical Parenting series for The Daily Review Atlas last year. I've revised and reposted it for an awesome link up I've found with a group of bloggers & writers from www.yeahwrite.me - a writing competition of sorts! This is an awesome group and I encourage you to check out their link ups. You don't have to write something to vote either! Shoot, you can vote for me!

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32 comments:

  1. wow. it kinda steams me that this was a TEACHER who said that and who is, apparently, turning them down. WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE?!??

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  2. Aaaaargh! Honeybees are dying right and left and they LOVE dandelions. I never pull one until it's gone to seed; it's my gift to the bees. Also, I taught my boys that a weed is simply a plant that's growing where you don't want it to. If that's my own special definition. . .whatever. Great post!

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  3. I like dandelions! And I still love blowing them, so maybe I am a big kid too!

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    1. IKE? isn't it aweseomt to blow the seeds?

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  4. I just want to slap that teacher, even as a former teacher! That's just wrong, plain & simple.

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  5. Aww booo. What a cynical attitude to have.

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  6. i agree..mean, cynical teacher. my son brought me dandelions yesterday and I was thrilled!

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  7. How can anyone make a comment like that? Has she ever heard of "something that came from the heart?" I'm glad she is not my kid's teacher!

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    1. this teacher is a young woman. so young. quite naive. thankfully my kid has never had her.

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  8. Great post. You are so right. Sadly, they will learn so many harsh realities soon enough. Why spoil the fun and generosity now?

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  9. That teacher obviously doesn't know anything about food. I'm going to have to make a "How to cook dandelions" video. This was already on my to-do list, thanks for the reminder! And awesome to meet you via YeahWrite!

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  10. Thank you for pointing out that dandelions are both beautiful and delicious! Also, how generally rude for the teacher to scold someone who offers her a gift. I assume her students have learned not to give her the opportunity.

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  11. I can just imagine the crestfallen face of a child who tries to hand that woman dandelions and she turns them away! She makes me grumpy.

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  12. Hmph, people like that just make me want to stomp on their perfect garden. Or whatever they treasure. I think that whatever children gift to us (half-eaten biscuits, weeds, a chewed up dog toy), it's THEIR gift to us. And there's nothing more sincere and heartfelt than a gift from a child. Great post, Steph!

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    1. thanks Alison! I appreciate your comment. I love when my kids give me gifts!! lately my twins are swamping me with pictures they've drawn. my frige is plastered and it's wonderful.

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  13. Very masterful turning this little anecdote into a larger reflection on society--I like it! Dandelions in addition to being wonderful presents for anyone NOT just teachers are quite fabulous medicinally. After I delivered my first child, I was still having issues with water retention. My midwife suggested dandelion root tincture in tea three times a day---lost 20 pounds of fluid in 5 days---Amazing! Great post! Erin

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    1. I've loved find your blog via yeahwrite. Thanks for stopping by mine and commenting and wow! what a testimony to the power of dandelions! 20 pounds!!

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  14. I loved this post. One of my favorite songs is titled "Dandelions" by a group called Five Iron Frenzy. They are a Christian band and so the song goes through the first verse talking about a little boy picking dandelions for his mom and moves on to basically compare us as people to dandelions. My favorite line is from the first chorus that says "She sees love where anyone else would see weeds, all hope is found here is everything he needs." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWTgFHCw2RM

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    1. I'm not familiar with that song but I like the line you quoted. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

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  15. Here in Northern CA weed has a different connotation altogether. It's a good word. That aside, I've always loved dandelions. They're beautiful in every stage. I find nothing more lovely than a field full of wildflowers, i.e. weeds. As someone else asked, what is wrong with people. If we viewed the world through the eyes of children more often we'd be nicer people. Nice post.

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    1. oh that's interesting. weeds are good? i like that idea!

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  16. I love dandelions! (Not in my lawn..but I love them.)
    I remember blowing dandelion seeds as a kid, and now I do that with my kids.
    I think a teacher should accept every act of kindness from a child. It's about the act itself, not about what they are offering. Someone who works with kids should understand that.

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  17. Just want to say thanks for all the comments here at To Write a Better Story. I found a little community with Yeah Write and that makes me happy as I was formerly community-less in the blogosphere worlds. Good luck to you for #yeahwrite51

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  18. I can't believe that teacher said that...how little-minded of her. I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiments here. It's all in how you look at things, isn't it?

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  19. Great job.

    Also, Dandelions can make delicious wine. Bring me ALL THE DANDELIONS.

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  20. I've thought about this a lot lately. What made a weed a weed? They are yellow, grow easily, and spread like wildflowers! Wish we were taught to love them!

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  21. I wonder if that teacher also tells the children to never accept gifts from Santa Claus, as Santa Claus (***SPOILER ALERT***) isn't real.

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  22. so sweet. i can't help but think of my own childhood relationship with dandelions. perhaps this little boy was giving his teacher a bouquet full of wishes.

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  23. I think dandelions are pretty and I happily accept them. I'm fine with them on my lawn and enjoy knowing that blowing the seeds there will be more. And the leaves are yummy. So there. Nice post!

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  24. Insightful and thought provoking. Well done. You know, it really is rather difficult to get rid of dandelions. Shouldn't they be honored for their fortitude? I surely could learn something from them.

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    1. Sperk, I LOVE that idea! "honored for their fortitude" !! Brilliant!! I enjoyed thinking about that as a possibility!

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