Behind the Photo: Kicking the Clock

Blog – NWF Green Hour

I would rather bike Truman to preschool. It’s about six-tenths of a mile; a few minutes’ ride. And we are not the type of family who is regularly ready to walk out the door with a wealth of time to spare. Often I pull coat, scarf and hat on my son, heading for the bike, and he stomps his foot and insists we walk.

Walk? We have exactly eight minutes to get to preschool. I take a deep breath and remember: part of the learning is in the journey. And if I can muster the patience, I take his hand, and walk.

There is no fast way to walk with an almost-four-year-old, especially not Truman. He hasn’t yet developed the skill that developmental pediatricians call “shifting from original idea” and label with “possibly perseverative or obsessive.”

In other words, if he gets it in his head that he must blow every last seed-bearing parachute from a dandelion clock, he must do so, and then the next, and the next.

Being a parent is often about nothing more than seeing the world through their eyes, understanding their priorities and place in the world. What wonders are before us! And why would adults put the value, “be on time for preschool,” above the value, “blowing dandelion seed?” Perhaps this is his very role in the planet: to spread life.

In the Wikipedia entry for dandelion, or “Taraxacum,” there is a line, “Dandelion seeds are often dispersed by young children, who often blow on or kick the clock.” Yes. I take a deep breath, as he does too, and as he blows, I exhale. Peace be with me. For this is his idea, his education, his spoke in the gears-grinding of the circle of life.

We are very, very late to preschool.

Sarah Gilbert is a mom raising three boys in Portland, Ore. and writes for, and Sarah’s entry is the first in an occasional series, “Behind the Photo,” where we discover the story behind a photo added to the Green Hour Flickr group.

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