“Hello, Mrs. Greene?”
"This is Mrs. Saunders, calling from Idlewild Elementary. I need to talk to you about Sophie."
“She's caused something of a ruckus on the playground today.”
"A ruckus? That seems-"
"She's been tackling boys and forcing them to kiss her."
Jennifer bit back a giggle, knowing that in a few more years the boys would like being tackled and kissed by a pretty girl. “I see.”
“I spoke with Sophie about her reasons, and she believes that the flowers told her it was okay.”
“The flowers?” Sophie was a dreamer but she didn’t talk to plants. It made no - then Jennifer remembered. “We went to the park this weekend to see everything in bloom. I taught her how to play ‘he loves me, he loves me not’ with the daisies. Is that what she was doing?”
“Yes. The flowers told her that every boy she asked about loved her, and she decided to kiss them so they’d know she liked them back.” There was an undertone of amusement in Mrs. Saunders voice as she continued. “We’re going to keep her inside for afternoon recess today and talk to her a bit more about it, but we’d appreciate if you speak to her as well. Love is all well and good, but it needs to come with fewer kisses and tackles, at least on school grounds.”
They made polite good-byes and Jennifer hung up the phone, bemused. She hadn’t expected Sophie to believe in ‘he loves me, he loves me not’ so strongly, but she was often surprised at the things her daughter chose to be passionate about. It occurred to her that she could simply tell Sophie that the flowers were a game and didn’t really know anything. But she didn’t want to do that.
Jennifer vaguely remembered having heard once that most flowers have an odd number of petals which meant that ‘he loves me, he loves me not’ was a cheat; if the flower was undamaged and the counter was careful he would always love you. That discovery came with the same punch to the gut feeling she had shortly after she lost her virginity. Her boyfriend asked her what was wrong and when she answered “I won’t ever be able to touch a unicorn” he didn’t know what to say. It was strange – the things you knew in your head weren’t real at all that you held onto so carefully in your heart. Mostly you didn’t even notice until they were gone. Jennifer taught ‘he loves me, he loves me not’ to Sophie knowing it was mostly a cheat, but didn’t want to burst that bubble for her daughter yet. After all, believing that everyone loves everyone else isn’t so bad.
When Sophie came home from school Jennifer helped her choose a snack, and then they went into the backyard to play. The grass was getting long, and daisies and dandelions popped up in bunches.
“I understand you were tackling boys at school today.”
“Only the boys who wouldn’t stand still for a kiss.”
“Kisses have to be given and received freely. You can’t force a kiss on someone.”
“Even if the flowers said that they love me?” Sophie’s bottom lip had a little bit of a quiver.
“Even then, pumpkin. Kissing is nice when both people want to do it, but you have to make sure that’s true first. Kissing isn’t for school anyway.”
Sophie sighed. “Okay. But I don’t understand why they wouldn’t want to kiss me if the flowers say they love me.”
“Well, the boys may not be as smart as the flowers yet.”
Sophie grinned. “That makes sense.” She started dancing a little dance, humming to herself.
Jennifer looked at the daisies by her feet. She did a quick check to be sure, but knew the odds were on her side when she picked a daisy to hold out to Sophie. “Here, sweetie. This flower knows if I love you or not.”
Sophie ran over to carefully take the daisy. Then she began to sing-song “Mommy loves me” in a high-pitched voice followed by “Mommy loves me not” in a deep growly voice. Jennifer counted along with her daughter with a smile.
“Mommy! There’s only one petal left and that means…” Sophie pulled the petal out and yelled “Mommy loves me!” She ran to Jennifer and stopped short just in front of her.
“Mommy, can I kiss you?”
“Of course you can, Soph. I give you permission to kiss me for now and forever.”
***This is my entry for week 21 of LJ Idol for the topic 'playing the odds'. It's an intersection week and my partner is the amazing serpentpixie . Her open topic entry is right here, and all of this week's entries can be found in this spot.***