Happy Cheetah Reading

Second-Chance Sunflower

I am not a spur-of-the-moment person. At all. If I go on vacation, I know far in advance where I’m going to stay, what I’m going to eat, and what I’m going to see. I figure, what’s the point in traveling if you don’t make sure you’ve seen all the priorities?

So it astonished me last Sunday morning to decide to drive to the beach, four hours away, for a little vacation. Never done anything like that before, and yet, somehow it all worked out.

At the end of one long day, I was biking, with my son on a tagalong. We had made a detour down a side street, and looked at the view, and were just turning back to make sure the rental bikes made it back before the store closed, when my son said, “Mom! Wait! Look at this flower! It’s amazing!”

And I’m embarrassed to say that, between the stress of getting back, the unwieldiness of the bike-with-tagalong, and the increasing velocity as we headed downhill, I said, “No. We have to keep going.”

Let’s pass over that moment as quickly as possible.

A while later, I apologized to my son. I should have turned back for those five seconds to look at the flower.

“That’s okay,” he said. “Maybe we can come back!”

But in my mind I thought, “This is miles away from where I want to drive, down stressful, congested roads, and we have a busy day tomorrow. I doubt it.”

And yet, the next day, we ended up with an extra hour, and again headed out biking along the same trail.

“We can go see the flower!” my son said.

And, indeed we could.

We took the three minutes and biked up the road. The whole time I was hoping the flower had not been accidentally crushed overnight, or lost its bloom, or been picked.

And there it was. A single bloom, maybe the size of a half dollar, with a single row of petals, forgotten behind a bush, a few inches from the road.

“Look! See how it’s dark in the center, and then the petals are red, with yellow tips? Isn’t that beautiful?! Now do you see why I wanted you to see this so much?”

I hadn’t been sure what to expect. Probably something a bit more ostentatious, a bit more showy than a simple Gaillardia pulchella, a small, simple sunflower variety. Isn’t it a little common?

And yet . . . this flower did have two-tone petals, almost like they had been dipped at the tip in yellow paint. And the vibrant colors were beautiful. Could I see this through my son’s eyes?

Probably not fully, but a little.

And as we rode away, even more than my gratefulness for the flower’s beauty, even more than my gratefulness for my son’s wish to share it with me, I was grateful that I had a second chance as a mom, that I was able to share that moment with my son.

I’m thankful that all of life is not just a single pass/fail test, because I’d fail more than I wish to admit.

I’ve been thinking about second chances a lot lately. About trying new things.

My son didn’t learn to read with the first program we tried.

For us, it took twelve chances, in the case of reading programs and therapies.

But with the twelfth, we’re making progress. I’m grateful.

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