My wife and I have never been “flower people”. We don’t…”do” flowers. Not fresh cut flowers, anyway. We’ve been living with a pooled income for years now and they have always seemed like such an excessive waste. When you think of it, here are these pretty little flowers and then they get chopped off from their roots, processed and sold to us at inflated rates, and we’re happy to pay through the nose for the honour of enduring a futile struggle to keep them ‘alive’ as long as we can. No, it’s not that we don’t like flowers, it’s just that we have better things to do with our money, I guess. And it’s not like we haven’t tried – over the years Karen and I have actively participated in gifting each other living plants and flowers – in pots, with dirt and roots and everything – as a “more meaningful” token of love on suitable occasions. Somehow they still ended up as futile struggles for life…but the extra effort (and soil) has always justified the inevitable demise of any type of plant in this house. At the end of the day though, I’d say we don’t do flowers.
Being tuned in to Nyana’s world brings with it a natural reflex to notice all the things that make her head turn. Constantly trying to maintain some sort of engagement with her is often the key to having a smooth and happy outing. Yet, last week when we went grocery shopping I had completely walked past a wall of colourful tulips at the entrance of the PriceSmart before I noticed her reaction. As I pushed the stroller through the entrance and grabbed our little shopping basket, Nyana was turning around in her seat to look back over the side and in the back of my mind I answered the question that the front of my mind was still preparing to ask. “Ah, of course. There were some tulips back there.” “What the heck is she looking at? Oh, yes, tulips. Right”.
I kinda stood there for a moment gauging the commitment of her gaze and I tell ya, there’s something about watching a two year old girl stare back longingly at a wall full of fresh cut flowers that could melt even the coldest cockles in the world. I barely had time to think before my legs and arms started pushing the stroller in a U-turn back out the exit door to the tulip display outside. And of course, once we were there, they had on display the one thing that is sure to win me over (and many other dads, I’m sure).
A 99 cent sale sign. Done and done.
“OK, what colour of flowers do you want to get for Mom, Nyana?” Wide-eyed with wonder, she picked out some lovely yellow tulips with a flashy red stripe in the petal. It was a pretty quick decision, they were a bold flower amidst pinks and whites and pale yellows. The only trick now was getting them home without a) destroying them or b) suffering a total meltdown from not being able to inspect (destroy) them. I could see the confusion welling up in her eyes so we had a quick chat about how Mom will be so happy to get some flowers from her, and how flowers are such a nice way to say how much you love someone. She was surprisingly content to watch me put the flowers in the basket – a safe place – and we continued shopping without incident. We chatted about them a few times on the way home and each time she was happy with knowing that they were tucked away, separate from the rest of the groceries so they wouldn’t get crushed. But when we rolled into the parking lot at home, I decided to entrust Nyana with a big-girl challenge, something that would really make this perfect – the hand delivery.
Coming up the elevator, I got the little bunch of five tulips out from their safe place and handed them to Nyana. “Now, Ny, these are for Mom, right?” “Yes, Daddy.” “We have to take them in to her in one piece, right? We don’t want to pull them apart like the ones at the park, right?” “Yes, Daddy.” “OK, here you go, why don’t you take those in to Mom and say ‘I love you’?” “OK, Daddy.” And off she went, proudly carrying the little bundle down the long hall to our door, where I took her shoes off outside so she could just barge on in and find Mom. Which is exactly what she did. As I followed her in, parking the stroller in the front hall and taking off my own shoes, I knew from their excited squeals coming down the hall that even though we might not have been aware of it, we became flower people the day she was born. Also, there is nothing like setting up your daughter to make your wife’s day.
And three days later, as I watched Ny tear one of those flowers apart as she inspected it, I realized that I wouldn’t have it any other way.