“I made green choices when you were gone!  Where’s my special treat?”


Saturday night, I went out with some friends for a much needed girls’ night out.  We saw the movie “Bridesmaids” (my first non-animated theater movie in 5 years) and stayed for dinner and drinks.  I told Howie that if he made “green choices” while I was out, I’d bring him back a special treat.

I forgot.  Maybe somewhere in the back of my mind I thought there was no way he’d have a good night, considering the state I left him in.  But Tim said that after he got over the initial shock of his pizza looking “wrong”, he settled in and had a great night.

And now, at 7am, he wanted his treat.  I had to think fast on my feet.

I tried to think of all the places I could have hidden a new Hot Wheels car.  I tend to buy them in bulk, because…well, you just never know.

Suddenly, something caught my eye outside our front window.

Howie’s had a bit of an obsession with dandelions lately, specifically the ones that have turned white with seeds, ready to fly away in the wind.  Whenever he sees one, we have to stop.  In the yard.  On a walk.  On the way into school and leaving.  He spots them from the car.  He has to pick them and blow the seeds away until the flower is clean.

Right outside our window was one perfect white seeded dandelion.  Just one.

“How about this special treat? Do you want to go out in your pajamas by yourself and get that dandelion?  I’ll watch you from the window.”

I thought for sure he’d say no.  Or beg me to come with him.  He won’t even go up to his room alone, so I was afraid this would backfire. We’ve never let him out in the yard without one of us.  I’ve always been too nervous that his impulses would take over and he’d get hurt.

Howie jumped up, looked out the window, and ran over to get his shoes.

“I can go out all by myself.”  Not a question, but a statement.

I opened the door and he ran out front.

I stood at the window and watched him carefully approach the dandelion.  He did not want to risk any potential breeze that would blow the seeds away until he was ready.  He quickly pulled the dandelion out of the ground.  And what followed was pure joy.



We see the dandelion as a weed, growing and invading our lawns and our flower beds.

My son sees them as something special.  Something to set free and watch in wonder.

Once the dandelion was empty, he threw it back on the lawn, ran up to the door and knocked to come in.

“Did you like your special treat?”, I asked.

“YES!  Thank you!”

His older brother Gerry came into the room and asked what was going on.

“Gerry!  GERRY!  I-went-outside-all-by-myself-in-my-pajamas-and-I-blew-all-the-seeds-away-and-then-I-came-back-inside.  In my PAJAMAS!”  He was so excited it all came out like one giant word.

“WOW!”, replied Gerry, his voice dripping with over-the-top enthusiasm in an effort to show me that he’s being a good big brother.  “That’s so BRAVE of you.”

A big smile came over Howie’s face.  “Yes,” he said.  “I was brave.  It was my special treat.”


You belong among the wildflowers
You belong somewhere close to me
Far away from your trouble and worry
You belong somewhere you feel free
You belong somewhere you feel free” – Wildflowers by Tom Petty