Life's Lessons in a Puff Ball


“Mommy, look what I picked for you!”

My daughter ran up to me carrying a nearly perfect puff ball of a dandelion gone to seed.

“Blow on it Mommy. Blow on it.”

I pursed my lips and pretended to blow on it, conflicted—knowing what my husband would think of me spreading dandelion seeds in the yard, but also not wanting to disappoint my daughter who had so kindly shared this magical puff ball with me.

“I’m blowing on it, but nothing’s happening.”



“Blow harder. Try again. You can do it.” She said.

So I pursed my lips and blew again, carefully directing my stream of air away from the puff ball.

“Still nothing.” I said, pretending to be frustrated.

“Try again.” My daughter walked beside me.

I tried a third time. “Nope, still nothing.”

At this point, my three-year-old daughter broke out into song, singing one of the ditties from the Yo Gabba Gabba television show.

“Keep trying. Keep trying. Never give up. Never give up. Keep trying. Keep trying. Never give up. Never give up.”

I’ve had a hard time writing this column this week. I’ve started it several times, writing about different topics: a writers’ conference I attended at UW; a social media seminar I attended; thoughts I had about the transcript of the Senate inquiry of Goldman-Sachs. I even thought about writing about the oil spill in the gulf and the fragility of the Gulf Shore ecosystems, but nothing was working.

My husband even offered several topics. He even offered to turn off the television and disappear. But the suggestion he made that stuck with me was this, “Dandelions: to some people they are annoying weeds; to others they are treasures of golden sunshine waiting to be picked and shared with someone special.”

That’s when I thought about the puff ball my daughter gave me as we headed in from outside this afternoon.

It’s not that the puff ball was such a rare treasure. She will probably pick more dandelions and puff balls for me and others in the future.

What I will always treasure is how my daughter encouraged me to “keep trying, keep trying, to never give up.” She showed, in her own three-year-old way an amazing ethic of care that I hope she never loses. And, she’s set the bar high for me as a parent, when she needs me to encourage her to work at something hard, to keep trying and never give up. I only hope that I can follow her example of genuine, gentle and kind encouragement—that I will walk singing words of encouragement beside her, rather than pushing from behind.

Yes, to some people dandelions are annoying weeds. But to me, they are treasures of golden sunshine, reminding me what it means to express a genuine ethic of care for another person.

© 2010 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.

3 thoughts on “Life's Lessons in a Puff Ball

  1. Here is to all those beautiful weeds that our kids love and our neighbor hate! What is so wonderful about perfectly uniform green lawns anyway?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s