September 28, 2009
In my sixth year, I was the proud member of a Bluebird Girl Scout troop. The Bluebirds were a hybrid of what is now the Daisies and Brownies. Every year, my troop had a daddy-daughter dinner which I anticipated for months with mounting excitement. My dad traveled a great deal with his business, but he always cleared his schedule for our date. It would usually include a dinner, program and sometimes even a sing-a-long.
On this one particular date, my dad came home with a corsage in a chilled florist’s box…just for me. I stared at the blushing petals, spellbound. As mom pinned the flower onto my sky-blue uniform shirt, I felt surely that I had been transformed from a plain, freckle-faced girl into a replica of the current Miss America. That flower made the entire evening magical.
When we returned home, Dad said he would put my corsage back in the refrigerator and I could wear it the next day. I made sure he tucked it safely back in the florist’s box and regretfully left it for bed, disappointed that they wouldn’t let me sleep with a flower pinned to my pajamas. After a night of restlessness, thinking about how I would razzle-dazzle the neighborhood with my newfound glamour, I woke up and ran to the fridge, intent on adorning my robe.
I couldn’t find the corsage. I searched every inch of that fridge. When my parents opened their eyes, they discovered a child hopping up and down with anxiety. It turns out that Dad had accidentally put my corsage in the freezer and it was now entombed inside the see-through box, a shriveled, black lump.
I felt devastated. And I know it showed. My dad apologized and went on his way. My parents didn’t rush to buy me a new corsage or “make it up to me” by doing something special. These mistakes were simply a part of life.
As a parent, I want to protect my kids and make everything perfect for them. By not doing so, my parents helped me to learn that I had the personal power necessary to face disappointing situations. That corsage taught me that material things are fleeting and undependable. That situations occur which we don’t like but have to accept. That people are flawed, but they still love me and I can still love them back.
For some reason my generation, including me, seems to sometimes forget this essential lesson. Let’s allow our children have a few frozen flower moments. They will be better off for it.