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May 7, 2019

Dandelions: The Greatest Gift

Contributed by: Alison Tweedie, Education Specialist

Have you ever experienced a moment like this: You are outside with a child and they come running up to you with great excitement in their eyes. They extend their arm, reach towards you, and place a rumpled dandelion in your hand—still warm from being squeezed in their tiny first. Or maybe the dandelion was in its fluffy stage and they took a moment to blow all the seeds away before they brought it to you.

“This is for you.” They say, with a sheepish yet proud look on their face.

You smile politely and say thank you while thinking to yourself, “Awesome. A mushy weed.”

This happens all the time. Who hasn’t received a dandelion, a rock, a piece of grass, a clover, a bug, a stick, or a leaf from a child?

The beautiful thing about children is that they don’t need a national celebration or a calendar to tell them it’s time to show their appreciation for your love, presence, and existence in their lives. They do it whenever they feel it and with whatever is available to them.

When a child says, “This is for you,” I believe it is the most genuine, honest, meaningful, and authentic gift of love and appreciation in existence. In that moment of thought and action there is a message from the child that says, “Thank you for seeing me, and loving me, and being here.”

The item they are giving is something very special as well. Children don’t really have anything of their own to give. If you think about it, everything they own is either purchased by or previously owned by someone else. Their favorite toy, their favorite book, even their favorite shirt comes from somewhere else and is not truly “theirs.” But for a moment they possess full ownership of that dandelion they picked and it gives them feelings of independence, confidence, acceptance, pride, success, and immense joy. Because they found it, they picked it, and it is theirs. In that moment, the dandelion is their whole world — and then they think of you. So they take that dandelion, the only thing they own and possess in the whole wide world, the thing that brought them such joy and pride, and they give it to you. It’s as if they are saying, “This made my heart happy, and you make my heart happy, so you should have this.”

This generous giving of themselves extends beyond the found items of nature’s play space—it includes the artistic masterpiece with scribbles all over it (or just one quick scribble) and the random thing they found on the floor. Remember every time they bring you these found items or creations they are sharing their heart, their soul, and everything they’ve got—and they are choosing to give it to you.

Doesn’t that dandelion in your hand seem so much more valuable than it was at first glance? May you cherish all the little treasures with the gratitude and wonder of the little one who bestowed them upon you.