Thursday, July 1, 2010

Bigger Picture Moment: The Flower Girl & The Garbage Lady

The summer season at Mia's preschool -- a shortened 2 mornings per week, 6 week session -- isn't her favorite place to be.  The classroom is different, most of the kids are different, and to top it off, she's one of only two girls in her class.  The other girl's name is also Mia, and I think sharing a name with a new friend is making her feel odd.  She isn't the most adaptable little girl, and change upsets her equilibrium so much that she's been clinging to me, refusing to leave me, crying to stay with me. 

By the end of her time at preschool -- her time painting and running and sprinkler-ing and laughing -- she's her happy self again.  My big 4-year-old, ready to be independent and bossy once more.

A few days ago, I collected her and her belongings, watching her skip happily down the hallway to the front doors.  Her ponytail was swinging over her back, marking time with each leap and skip of her legs, and she was completely happy.  I was, too.  Lauren was in my arms, my shoulders were loaded down with swimming gear, bookbags, and lunchboxes, and it was good.  We all climbed into the car, buckling in and settling down for a snack on the drive home. 

Suddenly, Mia burst into tears.  Not shy, quiet tears, but loud, fit-preceding tears of terror.  Dramatic tears, which are, in fact, her forte.  "Your flowers," she wailed, starting to kick against her car seat.  "We forgot your flowers!"  I had no idea what she was talking about.  The teacher had said nothing about flowers, and Mia's words were working their way towards incoherence. 

Eventually, I understood that she had left flowers -- of some sort -- in her classroom, on the countertop, by the sink.  And they were for me.  Especially for me, and we couldn't leave without them, because she'd worked so hard on them. 
I was torn.

Both girls were already strapped into their seats, and the midday sun was turning our car into a melting pot.  The classroom was at the far end of the building, and naptime was due to start in minutes.  Home was where we needed to be, but my sweet girl -- who was having trouble transitioning into a new setting -- needed something else, more.  Deciding on a plan, I started the car and drove it right up to the front doors of the school.  I got the attention of the front desk secretary and she agreed to watch the girls in the car, while I ran to the other end of the school. 
I was out of breath from hurrying, and croaked out something about Mia's flowers? to her teacher. 

"Oh, yeah," she apologized. "I already threw those away out in the hall.  I didn't think she'd be back for them!" 

I was crushed for Mia's sake (and also because of the tears I knew she'd resurrect when I didn't return with her missing flowers).

"But they're probably easy enough to reach," explained her teacher, walking towards the trashcan.  She took the lid off, and there, on papers and lunch wrappers and heaven knows what else, were dozens of tiny, white, clover-flowers.  Dozens.  Scattered over and under everything, Mia's entire morning's work: flowers for her mama. 

I stood there for a few minutes, picking out as many as I could see, staying away from the food items and dirty napkins.  It felt important.  It felt like affirming that I'd clearly seen and heard my daughter's attempt to show me her love.  As I walked back to the car, crumpled bunch of weedy flowers in my fist, I thought about how long it must have taken her to pick all of those flowers.  I thought about the other kids running and screaming and playing around her, while she squatted alone, searching for a beautiful addition to her bouquet. 

I thought about the smile on her face when she gives me any flower from any ditch or garden.  She's so thoughtful and caring sometimes, it melts me.

Melts me right into a garbage-digging fool. 

Her face was mottled red and tear-streaked, but she smiled and gasped when I returned to the car with my gift.  "But where are the rest of them?" she asked. My hand held only a third of what I'd seen in the garbage can.

"Some of them got lost," I said, "but these in my hand were the best ones."  I kissed her hair and clutched the flowers, thanking my daughter for her thoughtful gift -- for thinking of me and knowing how much I'd appreciate the bouquet.

Even though I had to rummage through the trash bin to find it.

At home, I covered the stems in water, letting the flowers regain some of their perk and stature.  Their beauty and worth had already been redeemed, though, in the eyes of one little girl and her sappy mama.

Where have YOU see the Bigger Picture lately?  Link up your post at Corinne's Trains, Tutus, and Tea Time this week, and visit some other Bigger Picture Moments, too!  I'll be hosting next week, so be sure to come back then!  (And every day in between, really :)


  1. That was so sweet to read, Sarah. I love that you're the kind of mother who went back :)

  2. You're such a fantastic mama! Think about how much that memory will mean to her when she's older!

  3. This is the perfect AWWWW moment read! I said awwww the minute you wrote that they were in the trash. I just knew you would become a trash diggin mama.

    I'm that sappy, too. It is the bigger moment.

  4. I too have a very sensitive kid and I have encountered this exact situation where the tears pour out over something that seems so trivial but in reality is so important to the kid. I, like Corrine, love that you went back. And I loved reading this beautiful description. Maybe because I have a sensitive kid too, but I read this on the edge of my seat waiting to hear what happened. I thought it was pretty funny that she noticed immediately that you didn't have all of them. Kids!!!!

  5. You can't ask for better bigger picture moments than the ones you find while face-to-face with preschool garbage. You're a good mama, garbage lady!

  6. Truly delightful post in so many ways. :)

  7. Simlpy beautiful. I loved this: "It felt like affirming that I'd clearly seen and heard my daughter's attempt to show me her love."
    What an important thing to do, that some poeple might have brushed off. So glad you didn't, and also that you shared this with us!

  8. Your daughter will know you cherish her as much as she cherishes you. That story brought a tear to my eye.

  9. such sweetness. what a lovely story.

    peace and joy

  10. Moments to cherish... so sweet.

  11. Sarah this is such a beautifully written piece about an equally beautiful and very loving little girl. How proud you must be of her and she of you. Just wonderful, I loved reading this.

  12. This post confirms are both beautiful souls. How absolutely lovely.

  13. What a beautiful reminder of what is really important

  14. Oh my goodness, Sarah! I am having such a bad mommy week...and this post almost {...almost} makes me want to go wake the girls and give them hugs and thank them for being little and for being them! Thank you for this. xo

  15. You get it. And you get her. And that's a moment she'll remember ... that you cared enough about her feelings to go back.
    That wasn't an easy decision because it was the selfless decision ... much like her decision to spend her time outside gathering flowers for you.

  16. this is such a sweet story! love that it was her days work, picking flowers for her mama. Adorable. It is worth any amount of trash you have to dig through isn't it. :) Thanks for sharing!

  17. We have had similar meltdowns, frustrating but so sweet no? I am pretty sure that my little guy would pick every. single. flower on the planet for me!

  18. so sweet! You are a great mom. The things we will do for our kids :)

  19. What a great thing you did and how sweet that she spent her time picking flowers for you! And what a great reminder to us all....sometimes, it's the little things that matter the most.

  20. Heart-melting! I would have done the same thing.


Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?