Saturday, May 17, 2014

A Sweet Bouquet

My house is littered this post Mother’s Day weekend with hand picked bouquets and crayon cards of adoration. It’s simple and it’s sweet. It’s also age appropriate. However, I have since discovered that not everyone feels the same way.

I watched recently as my children entered school one morning, bright eyed and bushy tailed, when a classmate joined the line 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.
I smiled at the gesture until a parent leaned towards me, having witnessed the same gesture, and said, “I never accept dandelions! I mean it sounds harsh but kids have to learn they 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 it evidenced in the millions of dollars spent annually by homeowners desperately 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 orb seeds or hurry them along during a walk when they wish to stop and admire the soft yellow petals.

And why do we even 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 weed; we’ve been taught to. 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’.

And even if I can’t convince you the children should be allowed to explore and discover nature, isn’t the gift of a bouquet of flowers – even dandelions – 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 to learn that roses are superior to the likes of dandelions or clover flowers. If they’ve taken the time to collect a fist full of drooping, sad looking, common flowers 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.

To some, dandelions have real meaning and purpose. I recently learned herbalists consider the common dandelion a valuable herb with many culinary and medicinal uses. 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.

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. Why? Because I’m the mom and I said so! That’s why!

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