Focus on the Wish, Not the Weed

Positive reinforcement can become groundwork for confidence.

I don't spend a lot of time dwelling in the past — mostly because, for better or worse and especially as I age, I forget things the instant they've passed. But some moments stick with me, especially the ones I'm not proud of.

I could live with those moments if they happened in a vacuum and there was only my self-disappointment to contend with. But the cost is higher when others are watching, and we see the stain our actions and words can leave on them.

One of my unproudest moments came about a year ago, when my oldest was in kindergarten.

Each morning on the walk to school, the spring dandelions called to her, just begging to be picked. They'd always called her, from the time she could walk. We'd go to a park and she'd toddle over to the flowers, plucking them one by one until she had a fistful — and so pleased with herself as she delivered a bouquet as sunny as she was.

That kindergarten morning, as she stopped for what felt like the millionth time to pick yet another dandelion, my impatience got the best of me.

“You know that dandelions are just weeds, don't you?” I muttered.

I felt a quick pang of regret and wished I could pull the words back in, but she didn't seem to have much reaction.

I wasn't actually sure she even heard me as she picked several more. Satisfied, we finally walked on to school, kissed goodbye as always, and I didn't think much about the encounter again.

Until recently.

A sunny day found our family of four out for a walk. In a gesture reflective of my intention to set aside agenda and let my girls and their sweet, meandering curiosity lead the way, I picked a dandelion and offered it to my girl.

“Nah. You can give it to her,” she said, pointing to her little sister. “I don't want a weed.”

Gut punch. I wanted to go back to that kindergarten morning for a do-over.

I realized those careless words had broken off a piece of her magic and robbed her of some of her innocence. My words. I had failed her.

It wasn't the first time I'd disappointed myself as a mother, and I'm sure it won't be the last. As much as I wish otherwise, I can't unsay it any more than I could make the earth spin backwards. What's done is done.

But I am forever more aware of the power of my words, that it takes only a single drop of a voice of influence to douse the spark of imagination.

The good news is that the same amount of encouragement can ignite a lifetime of curiosity, query and cultivation.

Positive reinforcement can become groundwork for confidence.

Patience for exploration can someday blossom into a guiding, wayfinding passion.

If I did get the chance to re-write that scene, I'd like to think I'd start by building in more time to let that little girl pick dandelions to her heart's content. And I'd accept each offering with the graciousness it deserved, saying, “My, what a lovely flower, almost as beautiful as you are. Let's wish on it together.”


Becky Vollmer

Becky Vollmer is a mom, writer and founder of You Are Not Stuck, a community focused on empowerment and choice.

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Jackie WilushewskiRubina fazalTiffany NewsomeAaron CavanaughMaria Julia Recent comment authors
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Jackie Wilushewski

Very lovely article, enjoyed reading these lovely reminders and tips. I find myself being “a kid” in scenarios and even being poked fun of or being put down for connecting in ways that “adults don’t”. Just really related and felt this article, thank you!

* sharing *

Robina fazal

Nice article…inspiring and good message to focus on the wish not the seed…Yes its the wish that makes us eager to be wht we wanna be…whts our intentions and desires weed is just a symbol or a sign to make a wish…as we are firm in our in God patient and resist our selves..know to live ourselves with wht we are..wht we wanna acheive…we make a wish…and practicly tend and focus on wht’s our purose to lead a full life…we can cut down the negtive thoughts…a with a positive mind can be a better human and useful person…

Robina fazal

Nice Article..Mother nature counts a lot in the balance upbringing of a child..wht a child learn during the period from childhood to Adult depicts in the character and personality of a healthy child with healthy mind and’s now up to the child to utilize his ,her capabilities in best possible ways .in his,her future…Parents both are responsible for child’s mind and Soul uplift.. As father’s are usually busy..and it’s Mom who look after the child..and makes tend to make her child a good person for the society..if Mom is educated ,well manners,positive and productive . These qualities are shown in her children….I was really lucky to have a Mom like that who devoted her life for the good upbringing of her child..RIp Mom ,May your Soul rest in peace..your love and lessons are with me..always..wht ever the conditions in favour or not .I’ll keep on positivity…and productivity.. and be helpful for all.. Life is not easy if you have control over your Simple.. trust in God can lead a comparatively better life with purpose..and can enjoy good health.. 💐Amen

Tiffany Newsome

We are ALL human and we make mistakes. I do not believe that one should beat themselves up about certain issues. Especially ones you can not fix. This was a great read!


It is the hardest thing for me to overcome because I was born a hot head lol. But in having a 5 month old son who does alot of crying I have had to use my inner strength being a stay at home dad which I would have never imagined. So this is widsom for me and knowing what to expect in the upcoming years.

Vasudevan Bhattathir

this article will guide the parents in bringing up children

Maria Julia
Maria Julia

True that … I loved this article,not just because as a parent I have done the same mistakes but because I learned not to be so critical about my own ideas and the way I see things in life 😀… let’s us all see the positives and the magic in everything and in everyone 🙏🤗


FIRST again thank you for the encouragement to share.. IT is so important not to get caught up in what others think about us in so many different aspects of life. I just recently came back to JESUS, totally surrendering my life to HIM. And I joined my church choir really to support my daughter with Autism that loves to sing. I had not sung on the choir in 23 yrs since she was an infant and began choking in the audience while I was up singing and I was asked by the church mother to sit down off of the choir and raise my children. And 23 yrs passed. It has actually been fulfillment to fall back in love with the things of GOD. And I’ve also faced that I don’t have the crisp strong high soprano voice I had in my 20s. So at times I become insecure particularly for major performances. So I decided on my way home tonite that is also what HIS precious HOLY SPIRIT is here for. He wants us to lean on Him when we feel that we aren’t up to par and when we want to be better. I always ask for a renewing of my mind and a cleansing of my heart and I extended to night asking for a renewing of my soprano voice.


Perhaps the wish is already planted in the weed. Mothers nature and nurture. And then the law of existential reality intercepts. One has family and one does not have family. When there is nothing to hold on to, detachment follows. One humbly grows.

Beatrice Hernandez

Love your story..
Remember like yesterday only the good times..
My Son’s childhood was over too soon..
Words are so strong..
I was careful since because my Father had a tendency to be very strict…
He could hurt me just with a few words of criticism..
Those memories stayed with me and kept me from repeating the same mistakes..
Thank you for sharing your thoughts…

Gail Liming

I’m sure I made a lot of mistakes too when raising my children, but I don’t beat myself up over so-called spilt milk which when growing up myself was a big issue at the dinner table. As I age I’ve considered other things as more important like live and let live. I enjoyed reading your candidness on the matter though and Have a Happy Easter full no regrets.