He said something like, “Fleverse!” while excitedly signing and pointing to the flower bed at the same time. “Flowers? You’re right, Eon. Flowers do make me happy!” I responded. I was asking his little sister and him the ‘Questions About Your Mom’ that have been going around Facebook. He had just answered, “What makes Mom happy?”
Apparently, my enthusiasm at all the dandelion and clover bouquets he’d been picking for me convinced him that flowers are my favorite things. Every wilted dandelion brings an exclamation of delight from me. I love that he thinks of me when he’s outside doing his thing. I know these days are fleeting.
Except now my lilies are in bloom. I don’t want him to pick the lilies.
The first time he brought me one, proud smile on his face, I thanked him and then gently explained, “We don’t pick those flowers.” I showed him all the weed flowers in the yard – the dandelions, violets, clover, etc – and encouraged him he could pick all of those, but the flowers in the flower beds are for looking only. We don’t touch them. We don’t pick them.
The next day, he brought me another lily, same proud smile lighting up his face. Same conversation followed. Knowing that Down syndrome slows his processing and makes it take longer for lessons to stick, I was patient.
By about the fifth time, my patience was wearing thin. “Eon, stop picking those flowers!” His head dropped and shoulders slumped. “‘K, mom,” he said, softly, eyes welling up. Feeling like a heel, I hugged him tight, thanked him for his sweetness and again explained the rule about flower bed flowers.
Yesterday, I overheard his daddy say, “Did you pick that for Mom?” A confident, “Yep!” followed from Eon. “Okay, but I don’t know what she’s going to say.” A much more subdued, “Yeah.”
I decided right then how to respond.
A hesitant boy came into my room, lily in hand, not quite meeting my eye.
“Is that for me?”
“It’s beautiful! Thank you! And thank you for thinking of me. You know I love flowers, don’t you?” Relief swept over him as a huge smile lit up his face.
Because, what are flowers for if not to bring joy to those around them?
And something clicked inside my heart.
I want to be like that.
I want to be someone:
- Who can’t NOT delight someone when the opportunity presents.
- Who must shine a light when they get the chance.
- Who sees beauty and doesn’t just enjoy it selfishly, but is compelled to share it.
- Who is willing to risk rejection to do so.
- Who thinks about those they love in the middle of their activities.
- Who sees beyond the flower to the smile it could bring.
I want to love big, with all of me. I want to share, without pretense. I want to give, expecting nothing in return. I’m supposedly “cognitively intact,” so my emotional processing is a little slow and it takes longer for these lessons to stick. When I grow up, I want to be like my six-year-old son with Down syndrome. He has much to teach me still.