Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Of Dandelions and Defiance

Brave little Dandelion!/Fast falls the snow/Bending the daffodil's/Haughty head low

Children grow so quickly, parents quickly forget the antics of one age when new escapades replace them. They only remember all many years later, when they can dare to laugh at the antics that gave them gray hairs.

I was reminiscing with our band’s snare drummer about an antic of his daughter’s that I had not even witnessed. I’d only heard about it second-hand. But it stuck in my memory longer than his.

We were discussing his seven year old’s first communion. He and his wife were worried what the girl would do when she tasted the sacramental wine. Would she maintain her ladylike composure or spit it out all over her snow-white communion dress, staining it a grape color?

Happily, he reported, she did not spit it out, much to her mother’s relief.

I then reminded him of an episode several years ago, when she was about four or five. Our band had traveled to a seaside resort for our annual summer holiday trip. I had already returned home.

However, this family and another, complete with grandparents in tow (one of whom told me this tale), returned to the amusement pier for one last fling. As they went along the street, the drummer’s daughter and his friend’s daughter spied dandelions in the grass.

The snare drummer’s daughter, “Sylvia”, plucked up one of the golden weeds. “Joanna,” his friend’s daughter, picked one, too.

His friend said to “Joanna,” “No, no, 'Joanna.' That’s nasty. Put that down.”

The girl regarded the flower for a moment. When her father insisted further that it was yucky, she replied, “Oh, all right” and tossed it away.

The snare drummer took his friend’s cue.

“No, no, ‘Sylvia.’ That’s nasty. Yucky. Put it down.”

“Sylvia” pondered the flower then looked up at her father, towering over her. She did not put the dandelion down. Instead, she put the weed blossom first into her mouth and proceeded to chew it down. With slow, careful determination, and very big bites, never taking her eye off her father.

The dandelion disappeared, chomp by chomp, down her gullet, until all that remained was the stem. She let the root dangle for a moment, for effect, and then consumed it, too.

Anyone who knows anything about this weed, knows what a bitter morsel it is and what pluck it took for this little girl to eat it with such relish.

When she finished, she took a step forward, stomping her foot at her father. “Sylvia” gave him one, last triumphant look and smacked her lips.

After a moment of stunned silence, I’m told, the entire group broke into hysterical laughter.

Tonight, her father couldn’t recall the incident.

“Usually, we fathers,” he said, “try to remember the good stuff, the good stories.”

I assured him it was a very good story and that I was only sorry I hadn’t been present to witness this mutinous act first-hand. When I first started my blog – when it had its original name, before I changed it – that was the very first tale I told.

I retell it now, near the eve of the Tax Day Tea Parties, so that the Tea Partiers may benefit by “Sylvia’s” splendid example of rebelliousness and fearlessness (when she was 18 months old, to her mother’s horror, she plunged headlong into the deep end of the motel pool and swam its entire length).

If anyone tells you they object to your home-made sign, or that you shouldn’t criticize Obama, or that you’re a right-wing conspiracy theorist, or that you’re a racist, homophobe, etcetera and so forth, that you should volunteer to redistribute your wealth, tear up the Constitution, and become a citizen of the world….

Tell them to go eat a dandelion.

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