We agree to leave the single dandelion there among the patio rocks because the boy finds them beautiful, wants to seed the whole lawn with them, picks me one each time we go to the park, waits until its securely threaded through the straps of my purse before returning to play, checks before we get in the car to leave to make sure it’s still there.
I don’t know how to explain to him the way others view them as weeds, or even what a weed is, a thing that grows when unchecked to take over other spaces. Because the truth is that like the 5-year-old, I find them better than grass with its too even green blades, love to watch him when he pulls the white ones from the ground, the way his cheeks puff out when he gathers air in his mouth before blowing out, love the way all those delicate, white seeds spin out across the air. Love the way too, with utter faith, he encourages things to grow, the weeds, and me too, that heart of mine too big for my body when I watch his bright eyes, the way he runs in sunlight, climbs up the slides instead of down, the way that, in the parking lot, he still asks for my hand, how my hand still dwarfs his own.
The lawns in the neighborhood are ordinary, a stretch of green on each property indistinguishable from another. On our street, the boy runs through all of them, can’t tell where ours ends and the neighbor’s begins, wouldn’t care anyway, the green grass just some smooth carpet for his feet he cares nothing for except as path to other destinations, the circle of needles below the evergreens, the small anthills near the end of the driveway where he places sticks for the ants to climb, the flowering trees at the end of the block, the petals they drop below them, all the wild colors of spring in the backdrop. He puts his hands on all the leaves, rearranges the rocks, traces a finger along the edge of those ant homes, places a dandelion before his lips, and blows.
And watching him, I’m suddenly grateful for weeds, the way that, unlike that other baby, he had rooted inside me before birth, some sudden, impossible thing I gave way to, some stubborn, impossible love I gave way to. The way that, unchecked, like some kind of weed, it took over all those other spaces.
Took over all those other empty, empty spaces.