This morning we had quite a parade of visitors past our house: our neighborhood's Mother's Day breast cancer fundraising walk. At this point in Chicago's often unpredictable spring weather, Mother's Day is sometimes a beautiful day and sometimes horrendous. The walkers were exceptionally lucky today. It was a perfect day - clear and almost 70 by the end of the walk.
Over 15,000 walkers passed by our house. Most were upbeat and respectful of the neighborhood. There are always a few exceptions - people who drop trash, pick flowers, or let their dogs leave smelly gifts on the lawn, without picking up afterwards.
I was a spectator for a while, then took a break to do other things around the house. When I went back to look again, I noticed that some of our tulips were missing. I went outside again, in the guise of doing a little yard work. Towards the end, I took a 5 minute walk down the street.
When I came back, I saw a little boy, probably 7 or 8, standing next to one of our flower beds, holding a bottle of water. The bottle contained one large bright orange tulip, suspiciously similar to the tulips he was standing next to. I said hi. He said hi in response. I asked him, "Did you grow that flower?" He looked at me slightly puzzled. I looked at the flower bed, then looked back at him. His expression turned rather sheepish. He said, "No, I picked it."
I politely explained that the flowers were there for everyone to enjoy. If enough people pick one or two, then pretty soon there are no flowers left for everyone else to see. He said, "I'm sorry. I just wanted to give one to my mom." I said he could give the tulip to his mom, but suggested that he should ask next time he wants to pick someone else's flowers. He said, "Thank you" and went to catch up with his mom.
I appreciated his intention to do something nice for his mom, even if he didn't do it in the best way. It was refreshing that he was polite and apologetic, an increasingly rare quality in kids his age.
One of the things I enjoy most about having these flower beds out along the sidewalk is watching parents with their kids as they enjoy the flowers and use them to teach their little ones about colors and flower species. Sometimes my neighbors' kids are the ones studying the flowers. I agree with the idea that "It takes a village" to raise a child. I like adding a bit of color to that village.
To all of you who are mothers, I wish you a beautiful Mother's Day. To those of you who aren't, I hope you're just having a fine day.