Last year, I planted flower bulbs. In the front yard, I planted big purple Allium. In scattered pots, I planted daffodils and paper whites. And in the backyard, I planted a pot of my new favorites, ranunculus, with their fine layers of petals and pure, bright colors.
I'm not really the gardening type, but I'm learning. Bulbs are fun, because you plant them one season, and they pop up another, a springtime surprise. Here in California, beautiful blooms are everywhere. A nearby outdoor shopping center, the kind with upscale stores that bring in enough money to afford expensive landscaping, has the most gorgeous tulips. They are the kind that are one color, but have edges dripping with another, like they were dipped in paint.
It was at this mall that I first noticed ranunculus, and I've been waiting patiently for mine to come up. About a month ago, the green shoots starting rising out of the dirt, but they quickly bent and faded, without producing a single bloom. I pulled the yellowed stems, and put the neglected pots out in the rain for a good soak.
And now, as the rain fades and the sun returns, so have new, healthier stems. Just this week, a single beautiful yellow flower rose up straight and tall. It looks lonely in the pot, but I hope more will join it soon.
I should say, it "looked" lonely in the pot. Because a couple days ago, my son, who spends much of his outside time pacing the yard’s perimeter, walked past that bloom, grabbed it, and plucked it right off. He did not do it with malice, nor was he trying to get a better look at it. He just grabbed it, and a couple feet past the pot, dropped it on the ground and moved on to the next tactile sensation.
As I watched him pluck that bloom, unable to stop him in time, I felt tears rising. Lately, nothing in our house is safe. In one day last week, Moe broke a wheel off a toy car, a rubber peacock off a music toy and pages out of a book. Why should anything in our backyard be safe?
I felt a failure at yet another desperate attempt to control some aspect of our lives. I hoped that with just the right amount of water and sunlight, vitamins and attention, I could affect an outcome: seasonal color, beauty, speech, normalcy.
That is when I had to laugh, not at Moe, but at myself. There I was, the constant blogger, immediately trying to find an analogy in the scene. And there I also was, the constant warrior-mom, trying to blame autism for every one of my son’s behaviors. That flower could have met its doom in so many ways, including the dog, the wind, or at the hands of any typical child. For me, part of finding acceptance (something I struggle with) is fighting the urge to ascribe meaning to every action my son takes.
Sometimes, as they say, a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes, a ranunculus is just a ranunculus.