“Mom! Mom! I have something for you!”
It is Jonathan, charging in to my place in the kingdom where I am wrestling with a vacuum cleaner and thinking about scrubbing toilets. He smells like outside and boasts a green smudge on his knee where his jeans used to be.
“These are for you, Mom!” he says, thrusting a beautiful bouquet of spring flowers into my hands. His fingers are grubby because he’s been collecting worms again. They match the muddy spattering of freckles that are just beginning to make their summer pilgrimage across his nose.
Jonathan smiles. “I picked them for you,” he says, using the same phrase he has used every year when the earth wakes up and flowers grow where the snow drifted deep.
The same little hands—bigger now—have picked countless bouquets, and little feet—bigger now—have run up countless steps, eager to share the breathtaking beauty with me.
This time, it is a wild assortment of dainty bluebells, snow-white camellias, restless dandelions, and one cheeky blue pansy from the flowerpot by the back deck. I notice he’s included a few specimens I’ve never seen before.
“Those are from Mrs. Smith’s yard,” he says, pointing to some flowers I hope grow profusely.
“They’re beautiful,” I say, and he nods because he knows.
“I’ll put them in a cup!” he says, grabbing the flowers back and charging out of the room.
I come down a minute later to find Jonathan with a jam jar, carefully arranging the flowers so the blue touches the yellow and the pink settles in against the white. “I like arranging flowers,” he says with a shrug, because an eight-year-old boy with a birthday in two days can’t very well say he likes arranging flowers without a shrug that says he doesn’t.
It is beautiful.
I stare at it a moment and marvel. Dandelions and bluebells, a wisp of a white-flowered weed and a pretty pink camellia, all nestle in to the same cut glass jar because they are beautiful to a boy who has not yet been told any different.
I realize I am partial to dandelion bouquets.
A bouquet like that means there is a child in my life who hasn’t been taught what beautiful is, and isn’t. It is the priceless kind, brought in by grubby-handed boys with green smears where their jeans used to be. It is the kind that is selected by sweet-smiled children who forget not to pick the neighbor’s flowers because they are filled up with the happy task of gathering all that is beautiful and bringing it in to the one who is the most beautiful to them in all the world.
A few years from now, the world will try to tell that boy what beauty is, and isn’t. But for now, I have a jam jar on the kitchen table and the dandelions and camellias are keeping company. I have a boy, two days shy of nine, who brings me beautiful flowers because he thinks I am beautiful.
For now, I have a boy who doesn’t know any different.
*100 Beautiful Days of Motherhood: 37