The Farmer’s Market
Our three kids (Addy, Clarence, and Eloise) and I went to the farmer’s market early Saturday morning. Halfway through, a kind flower vendor handed each child a free daisy – lovely, rich yellow with strong green stems. The children received the gifts with wonder (apparently, I don’t do enough cut flowers in my house) and carried their treasures around the market carefully.
Not 10 minutes later, I heard Eloise shriek with a stumble and saw her hunched on the pavement sobbing. I tried to help her up (at age four, random falls aren’t uncommon), but she pushed away my help: the injury was not to her but to her daisy, and she wanted to protect the scattered yellow petals for rehabilitation, panicking that I might step on them. Her grief was intense as she grappled desperately for the petals and tried to stick them back on her flower, and she sobbed even more when they fell back down.
I squatted down to join her and helped her cradle her daisy protectively. I softly agreed that it was very, very sad that the daisy lost its petals. “But, Eloise, look – it still has petals. It still has a lot of petals, doesn’t it?” A choked sob was all I could get for a ‘yes’.
So I went a little deeper, talking quietly and asking her questions while trying to talk her off her ledge:
“Eloise, your flower is going to die, right? All flowers will wilt and lose their petals and eventually die. Even Addy’s and Clarence’s flowers will lose their petals. It’s natural, and it’s okay. But we enjoy them now, and we still think they’re pretty. Even people get damaged, and are still lovely. You know how we get scrapes and cuts that turn into scars? That’s part of life, isn’t it? There’s damage, and there’s still beauty. I have scars and I’m still beautiful, right? If people can be beautiful with our scars and damage, a flower can be, too. Look how pretty your flower still is!”
Addy had been listening next to me, and she cut in with gusto: “Elly, my face is kinda-like-damaged with a port wine stain, right? And I’m still beautiful, aren’t I? So, you know, even though my face has something on it that shouldn’t be there, kinda like damage or a scar, I’m still totally beautiful! Right?”
Elly, who admires her Beautiful Big Sister as only a little sister can, nodded thoughtfully and sniffed, “Right”. She let me help her up, still cradling the daisy, and we continued through the market.
I heard no more sorrow about the damaged flower. If you know Eloise, who inherited all our passionate Irish blood, you know how rare it is for her to let an injury go without further comment. But she enjoyed her flower for the rest of the morning as if nothing had happened, and let it go when it finally faded later that day.
Sometimes I simply hand the parenting baton off to my eight-year-old Addy, knowing that I’m no longer needed at a particular moment. In her love of Truth, she acknowledged honest damage; in her wisdom, she saw its beauty, and in her confidence she pushed that vision out to her sister. And little Eloise got her flower back.