Q At a national park, my 5-year-old daughter picked a bouquet of wildflowers for me. Was this a no-no?
A Sorry, Mom, but no matter how innocent your daughter's intentions, picking flowers is verboten in national parks, as is gathering fossils, nests, and most other natural curiosities. Welcome to Murphy's Law for Mothers: Someone finally gives you flowers and they're contraband.
Luckily, you're not dealing with the LAPD here, but the kinder, gentler national park rangers. Rather than writing your daughter a picking ticket, most rangers would ask her to imagine how the park would look if every visitor plucked a couple blooms. National parks spokesperson Holly Bundock says, "Our first level of enforcement is education, especially with children."
Despite the kindness of rangers, your daughter may be upset that her gift wasn't a hit. Stress how much you appreciate her gesture, then suggest drawing pictures of her floral favorites or another alternative to picking. And if she goes ahead and picks again? Instead of taking the already doomed wildflowers home, remember that you're holding a handful of biomass, organic matter that will nourish the soil. Leave the posies in the park and take your daughter to a local florist to enjoy picking a beautiful bouquet for her role-model mom.
This article was first published in May 2006. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.