It could have been a wonderful moment and I ruined it!

My kids and I were going for a walk on a beautiful day. The temperature finally made it feel like spring had arrived and summer was around the corner. That’s when my daughter picked a dandelion and turned to me to share in what was about to take place. Daddy watch. She was getting ready to blow the seeds all over one of our neighbor’s yards. I stopped her immediately, knowing that what she was about to do would result in our neighbor having more weeds in their yard.

Shame on me for stealing that moment from my daughter. From that dandelion. It’s not as if the seeds weren’t going to be scattered eventually. And in this case it would have been the result of pure innocent joy. But instead, I intervened.

“All grown-ups were once children…but only a few of them remember it.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Children enter this world as vessels overflowing with joy. They have the uncanny ability to be happy anywhere with little to no help from us. Below is a text I received from my wife earlier today:


But what will happen as my son begins to get a little bit older. He will be going to preK next year and kindergarten the following year. My little vessel of joy will begin to take things called Benchmark Tests and he will start being timed on how fast he can read this or identify that.

And gradually, almost imperceptibly at first, the joy will begin to seep out of my little boy. What he does during the day will be given a score or a number or a letter. Notes will be sent home informing of us of what type of day he has had. As if he couldn’t tell us himself.

Joy and happiness will be reserved for special times. Like recess and lunchtime. At first my son wonder where it went. He use to be able conjure it up whenever he wished. But now. Now, when he goes to his reserves, he will start to realize that he has slowly become deflated. He will begin to look to adults for joy. And unfortunately, all we will be able to give him is a temporary fix. Yes, we have the ability to inflate from time to time. But little do they know that we depend upon them to bring us joy.

Whether we realize it or not, we need them more than they need us. And it is for this very reason that we can not allow them to deflate. We must protect them from punctures and we must guard their joy as if everything depends upon it.

Because it does!

Who are we to steal one single moment of joy from our children? Don’t we know that they were sent to bring us joy?

And they do!

But we mustn’t get in their way.

They know what they are doing. It is we who must look outside of ourselves for joy. We are the ones who have forgotten.

“Why can’t you fly now, mother?”
“Because I am grown up, dearest. When people grow up they forget the way.”
“Why do they forget the way?”
“Because they are no longer gay and innocent and heartless. It is only the gay and innocent and heartless who can fly.”

J.M. Barrie

While I was typing this post my son asked me to come play with him. I’m embarrassed to say that I told him not right now. That I would play a little bit later. I promise, I said.

It’s now a little bit later.

dd dbike


  1. Lovely post, Jon! As a parent of two children under five, I also have those moments of ‘Do I stop them from making a mess / doing something crazy or do I let them just be in their moment and clean up later?’ Recent examples include making muddy monster truck tracks (buckets of water + garden sand and dirt) to play monster trucks and making, then climbing atop, forts made of outdoor furniture.
    I’ve written about the importance of awe https://theeduflaneuse.wordpress.com/2014/11/26/gratitude-awe-delight/ and of presence https://theeduflaneuse.wordpress.com/2014/12/22/christmas-presence-not-presents/ but these things can be hard to hold onto without mindfulness and commitment. We definitely need to carve out time for blowing dandelion seeds, rolling down grassy hills, and making pillow forts! In fact I spent much of my weekend building LEGO.

  2. What beautiful and poignant words! Once wonder has been lost, it is so difficult to retrieve it again. Though I don’t have kids of my own, I think of the number of students who want to share things with me…my reply…”Later.” Shame on me. Hopefully, I’ll remember this the next time…

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