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Wishing the petals away ~ a story of patience

The moment he saw the small mylar frog balloon, Archie was in love.

The balloon, which is attached to a plastic stem, sits atop a bouquet of flowers given to me by a friend. I have them on the nightstand next to my side of the bed. The flowers are fresh and bright, mostly in shades of red and pink with a few flecks of yellow. The frog maintains a permanent crouch. He has droopy eyelids and a wavy mouth, making him look slightly skeptical and a little smug.

“Can I see the frog?”

I told him he could, pulling it out of the vase. The stem was wet, but I let him hold it for a minute or two. He waved it around the room and said, “Bribbit! Bribbit!” I asked for it back. Sadly, he pointed it at me, asking if he could keep the frog.

“When I’m done with it, you can have it.”

He handed it to me and watched as I poked the stem back into the vase. I straightened the frog so he could watch TV with me.

“When will you be done with the frog?”

“When the flowers die, I’ll be done with it and you can have it, okay? I promise!”

This seemed to satisfy Archie. It gave him assurance that it was a done deal once certain conditions were met. Those conditions are simple enough. The flowers will die. He will get the frog. Unfortunately, I overestimated his 3-year-old ability to grasp when and how flowers go about their bucket-kicking.

About 20 minutes later, Archie ran into the bedroom asking, “Are the flowers dead yet?” I thought this was funny, so I laughed and said nope, still alive. He groaned and stomped off. Throughout the evening, he asked a dozen more times if the flowers were dead yet? No! It will take a few days, I’d tell him. They’ll curl up and petals will begin to fall. That’s how we’ll know.

He eyed the bouquet, “I think they look dead.”

This morning, I was sitting up in bed eating my oatmeal when Archie sleepily wove his way into my room. Every hair on his head was reaching for a different star and his eyes were as droopy as Skeptical Frog’s.

He started to speak, but his voice caught. He coughed, clearing away the night. “Are the flowers dead yet?”

I predict a long day ahead with many visits from Archie, the boy who wishes death upon chrysanthemums, lilies, daisies, carnations, and asters. They held up beautifully through the night, maybe even looking a little better this morning. The petals are stiff but supple and there are none on the bedside table. They haven’t started shedding yet. None droop, none have their heads bowed. The water level in the vase has dropped, meaning they are still soaking in moisture though strong but porous stems.

Life stands in the way of Archie’s prize, which he will enjoy and play with for awhile. Then it will pop or end up in his closet or under his bed, forgotten. Teddy might find it and Archie’s interest will rally, temporarily. He is so, so young and can’t appreciate the flowers as the true thing of beauty, bursting with vivid color and intricate creation. Frog > flowers.

I can be the same way at times, overlooking what is vitally beautiful, wishing it out of my way. I falsely believe the real prize is the frog. It’s never the frog, no matter how cute and funny it is. Or how many times you kiss it.

At the beginning of this pregnancy, I couldn’t see the flowers. This doesn’t mean I wished the pregnancy away or wanted it to end. I never, ever did. But it wasn’t a part of My Big Plan. And here I am again, wishing for Mr. Baby to be born so I can get on with life. So he’ll be in my arms and we can leave the house and I can show him orange pumpkins he won’t understand and sunshine and sing to him.

But what we have now is pretty good. He’s under my heart, listening. I feel his squirms and pat him back. Asking him, “When are you going to be born?” incessantly is very Archie-esque.

“I will let you know,” is the answer.

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