A four-year-old boy gave his dad a bouquet of flowers, and a whole new perspective on life.
My son picked flowers today, for his mother and I. He’s four. I saw him from a distance, crouched down in the dirt, and I assumed he was digging or collecting insects.
He came to the screen door with a wild bouquet in hand, a radiant smile on his small face. After giving me my flowers, he gave a bunch to my wife.
She exclaimed “Flowers? For me?”
“For Daddy too!” he said.
He also loves My Little Pony. Loves it so much, in fact, that the show being pulled from Netflix recently demanded a day of mourning in my household (it’s back now, by the way).
Only once has anyone commented on his Broniness. My mother, after being asked to turn on the show for him one morning, replied “But ponies are for girls.”
A confused look came over my son’s face. “Ponies are for everybody,” he said simply.
Indeed. Having been subjected to many, many hours of My Little Pony over the past couple of years, I can say with confidence that ponies are for everybody. My favorite is Twilight Sparkle.
The point is, when did a pony become a girl thing? When did a flower? My son would never think not to give his father flowers, because flowers are something found in nature. Flowers are science. They are science in the same way that a rock is science, or a tree is, and the inherent beauty they contain is wholly separate from gender or culture. Flowers are science in the same way that the color pink is. Why shouldn’t a boy like the color pink? Doesn’t that seem ridiculous? Shouldn’t it?
The flip side is true as well. How many girls have been ridiculed for loving hunter green, or navy blue? Or for picking up a spider, which belongs to her (because it is part of this magical universe in which we live) as much as a flower does, as much as the color pink does?
I looked at the flowers my son gave me. Dandelions. For the first time, I really looked at them closely. I noticed for the first time the symmetry, the way the yellow seems to glow in the light.
And then I decided to look even closer. The Dandelion. Taraxacum officinale. A source of food for humans since prehistory, of nectar and pollen for North American bees. When the tissues of a dandelion are cut, they secrete latex, which a group of German scientists have cultivated to produce a natural source of rubber similar to that of the rubber tree. Dandelion-rubber, from which prototypical tires have already been made and are being tested on the road.
Does this flower, this incredible piece of nature, belong only to girls? Does it belong only to boys? I’m sure you’ll agree that the answer is no. That the dandelion, like the color pink, like ponies and trucks and creepy-crawlies, belongs to all of us. It belongs to us not in any sense of ownership, but in the sense that we are, all of us, allowed to observe, reflect, and be inspired by its inherent beauty and complexity.
I’m glad my son understands this. I’m glad he’s never known anything different. But I have to confess, I was taken off guard by this strange and wonderful gift. The universe used it to pull down constructs and connect me in a more intimate way with the surrounding world. Now I want to pass it on, and if touches something in you, I encourage you to pass it on as well.
Here is my challenge: choose a man in your life – a husband, a father, a son, a friend – and give him a bouquet of flowers.
Tell him why.
Sources: “Fraunhofer and Continental Come Together When the Dandelion Rubber Meets the Road.” Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2015.
Photo: Flickr/Rudolph Vlceck