Silas and I pick flowers together. Sometimes we pick up dead jacaranda blossoms from the sidewalk. Sometimes we sneak a hibiscus bloom off a bush. Sometimes it's a cluster of bougainvillea. Sometimes it's a geranium he yanks from a planter. Sometimes it's simply a dandelion puff.
More often than not, Silas simply holds the bloom in the stroller until it gets too wilted and then tosses it overboard. But sometimes, he asks me to tuck the flower behind his ear. Once on the way into church, he found us both giant purple flowers, and we made a deal that we'd each wear them behind our ear to think of each other while we were apart (he didn't want to go to his class) -- this, in fact, is how the flower-wearing began. 20 minutes into his class, I peeked into his room and in the midst of all the kids wrangling for cars and capes and racetracks, he was still wearing his bright purple flower tucked into his blond hair.
Today, on the way into a restaurant with some friends, Silas picked up fallen bougainvillea blossoms for the two of us, and I tucked them behind our ears. As soon as we walked through the door, his 3 year old friend turned to him and said, "why are you wearing that? You're not a girl." And I watched him falter. (Falter!) The next second the friend's sister walked in, looked at Silas and laughed "what are you doing with that flower??" I quickly stepped in and explained that anyone can wear a flower, then heard the boy mumble under his breath, "I don't want to wear one of those." And then -- despite my efforts -- without saying anything, Silas took the flower out. And he didn't put it back in.
My heart crushed. Even though Silas clearly smoothed his heart right out and played on, mine is still a little crumpled.