Weeds, Prepare to Be Choked!

My 2-year old has vivid dreams. I know this because he sleep-talks. Some dreams are confrontations…everyday toddler concerns like someone taking a toy, or not letting him have a treat before dinner. His cries are as real as the dreams feel to him, and quite loud, especially at 1 am. I have no doubt he’s accelerating my impending deafness in old age. 🙂

He woke crying just the other night.

  • [Me: Can you tell me what’s wrong?] Not sure he’s even fully awake, I’m rubbing his back consolingly.
  • [Him: I want a big one! Wah! Wah!] What is the best word for a crying sound? Sorry, this is all I could come up with. Makes him sound like one of those fake dolls, but imagine a more heartfelt sound.
  • [Me: A big one of what?]
  • [Him: A dandelion!] As if that was the most obvious answer.

My poor boy has such tumultuous dreams…about dandelions, for goodness sake.


Summer means new growth. Rich black soil between my fingers to welcome flowers in my garden pots and walkways.

Summer means grass clippings. A fresh, clean scent wafting from the large expanse of lawn that welcomes running feet and kickball.

Summer means dandelions. Yes, those yellow-petaled weeds that drive my hubby nuts. How dare they spot his perfectly green lawn.

My 2-year old, however, happily pulls them for me on a daily basis, and they are placed in high regard in a drinking glass on the kitchen counter. Score for Dad, too, since our little guy pulls them up before they seed. 🙂

He doesn’t realize dandelions are weeds, and it doesn’t matter. What does matter are the weeds I let pop up in my everyday interactions.

It’s about attitude. I’ve seen my attitude spread, in both positive and negative ways. Sometimes it’s shown in as simple a way as using manners.

For example, when I make super-polite requests, I usually get super-helpful responses.

But when I am testy, I see its seeds take root in those around me.

Like this last Sunday when putting groceries away. I was flitting from bag to bag like a hummingbird, searching for all cold items belonging in the fridge. I was a bit irritated at having gone to the store and now having to put everything away with no one lining up to give me a hand. Where was my Samsung refrigerator commercial where an assembly line of family members helps fit all the groceries into the extra-large fridge to Peter Gabriel’s song Big Time? Hmmm, is it because I have a Whirlpool? 🙂

I thrust a box of applesauce to my older son and barked, “Put this away.”

Eyes still downward toward the bags, I noticed his legs were firmly planted. I looked up. “Please?” he rolled his eyes at me.

Now part of me wanted to say, Don’t be sassy with me. But the other part of me – the one being really honest – was guilty for being so harsh and impolite. He was right, so I didn’t correct him on the eye-rolling. Instead, I apologized and wondered how often I let weeds like this spread. How do I expect them to be helpful, polite, and respectful if I’m not?

I’ve decided to actively choke out the weeds by planting more flowers through acts of tenderness.

     Do nothing out of selfish ambition
     or vain conceit. Rather, in humility
value others above yourselves, not
looking to your own interests but
each of you to the interests of the others. 

                                       Philippians 2:3-4

Today, I placed my son’s dandelions on the kitchen table for dinner. To kick off my flower-tending promise. I didn’t share this promise. It is for me to remember and for me to keep. But, hopefully, for everyone to feel.

My promise is to gift these 5 acts of tenderness to my family. Every. Day.

  • A thank you
  • A compliment
  • A word of encouragement
  • A hug & kiss
  • A prayer

I vow to do this with both of my sons and my husband (so that’s 15 acts a day)! Some are easy, like the hug & kiss. Others need conscious thought. None is dependent on their actions. And the prayers are acts of tenderness that don’t always need to be heard to still be powerful.

Each act is individual and unique to the person. Plus, they are given with explanation. The thank you is not simply to say “thank you.” Like when my son did not perform his usual invasion of the pantry 20 minutes after dinner. When he asked for permission first, I specifically told him, “Thank you for asking my permission before grabbing a snack from the pantry.”

I started this 5 days ago. I’ve found that the time I spend looking for these opportunities leaves less time to get frustrated over little things. And the positive nature can absolutely spread.

Here were the other acts of tenderness with my oldest the first day.

  • Compliment: I really enjoy seeing the details you put into your drawings.
  • Word of encouragement: Your reading is getting stronger each time I hear you.
  • Hug & kiss: I did this with him after he gave up a toy car his brother wanted. BTW – This is a random show of affection, sometimes for no reason at all, not a typical goodbye or goodnight hug and kiss.
  • Prayer: I pray that 3rd grade will be your best school year yet.

Since I never fail my nightly ritual to wash my face and brush my teeth, I’ve placed a reminder on my bathroom mirror: How many flowers did you tend today? I know some weeds will pop up here and there, but the more time I spend tending to the flowers, the less room for the weeds to grow.

My prayer tonight for my 2-year old will be, “I pray that Jesus walks into your sleepy mind with his arms full of happy dreams.” No more dandelion confrontations! Just sleep-giggles, please!

In the comments below, share your acts of tenderness – it may even spread as an idea for someone else. We can choke out the weeds together!

“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.”
— Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

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