Wednesday, February 13, 2008

From the Bottom of My Heart

By mutual agreement, all children ages 7 and up through 8th grade shall not be subjected to the cruel indignity of having to express affection or even friendship to their entire class via Red papers and chocolate candy hearts.

Every year, it is the same. We go to the pharmacy and the boys spend most of their time hoping Mom will grant them a “get out of jail Free” moment and not require they address 31 “Be My Valentine” or “You are My Friend” Spiderman cards. One year, I thought I had solved the problem by printing labels that said “Happy Valentine’s Day from” that we could just slap on Hershey bars. It would have worked if his younger sister hadn’t started in on central supply.

The consequence was a late night for both of us as we cut and pasted paper hearts for all the kids and he moaned over the fact that his Valentines were the very worst. “Why do we even have Valentine’s Day?” he grumbled.

Now I could have given a historical or theological answer at this point, but instead I flipped the conversation. “Why do you think we do this?”

“So girls can figure out who they want to marry.” He growled. “I’m never getting married.” And to prove he was serious, he lay down on the floor, arms and legs extended, playing “Dead dying dog,” from a bad silent movie.

I get six to eight year old boys hating all those hearts and flowers, but even worse is coping with sixth grader girls. “Mom, the only ones left are really creepy. Do we have to do the boys?” Suppressing the desire to whoop as a parent, again, I offer the option of home-made valentines and explain, the purpose of the day is to show our friendship and affection for each other, to go out of our way for people we otherwise take for granted. She listens and we resort to index cards with taped M&m’s and red heart stickers.

The kindergartener of course is absolutely in love with the whole concept of the day. She thinks we should wear red sparkly things 365 days out of the year and immerses herself into the process of adding additional glitter to each and every card. The amount of sentiment expressed by her alone is enough to send the boys scrambling for a star wars video, as if to sponge the sugary heartfelt enthusiasm of one so enamored with Cupid from their collective psyches.

After shepherding four children through the hazards of giving for the occasion, I still had preschool to manage. Twenty Valentines later, even I felt slightly overdosed on the color red.

Little did I know, I wasn’t done yet.

“Hey Mom?”
“Yes son?”
“What are you going to get Dad? You know, to go out of your way to show affection.”

Now I love my husband, but the sentiment meter on my psyche was reading “E.” Truthfully, I hadn’t given it a moment of thought.

“Well, I’ve been kind of busy…” I started weakly.
“You mean you Don’t have a gift for HIM?” my daughter rounds on me. A mutiny began. My five year old looked broken at the prospect of her OWN Mother having failed the Romantic test.
“I thought I’d try for a baby sitter.” I scrambled.
“And?” My sixth grader pouted, dissatisfied.
“And maybe get him a book and a CD.” I’m improvised, adding hastily, “Maybe opera, something we don’t have.”

Eying me with collective suspicion, they set their minds, “Get your purse.” My oldest ordered. “Sis, you load the others, I’ll get the baby. Mom needs to go shopping.”

And so it came to pass that my husband got a Red Propane Bar-b-que grill and coupons for some gourmet steaks this year. When he opened his present, he said, “Honey, this is really….unexpected.”

“Well, you know Mom,” my son offered. “She’s a Very thoughtful kind of person.”
Happy Valentine's Day!
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2 comments:

Larramie said...

Now let's hope the kids drop "hints" for you when the next holiday comes along. ;)

Happy Valentine's Day!

kev said...

Hmmm...you may be onto something. The critics of my earlier post weren't ethically challenged, they were just intellectually challenged. Interesting.

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!