Saturday, February 16, 2008

Valentine EKG Vital signs

The kids came home from school February 14th.

I thought I was home free.

I had helped make four recycled cereal boxes into Valentine Mail bags.

I had artfully decorated 24 chocolate home made cup cakes.

The day before, I had purchased each child their favorite candy to tuck in their lunch box and assisted with over 120 cards to ensure everyone in every class got one.

Thursday, they would have a special assembly, where the Principal would willingly hug a monkey, as payment for the kids having collected 3,500 cans of food for the food pantry program run by the Church on the same grounds.

They would then have Valentine's parties with cake and goodie bags, cards from all their classmates and a running of the Peanuts special. I figured, all was right with the world.

I mean, nothing says Valentine's day like the Principal of a school hugging a monkey and enough chocolate to coat the entire school, all in one day.

Alas. I knew nothing of how the day should be celebrated. I only knew my kid heart...if I had been at school, would have been satisfied and then some.

Around six, I discovered one unhappy Valentine. My eight year old son sat sulking, unable to voice his great disappointment with the whole holiday. He had eaten his starburst, looked at the cards, completed the puzzle his teacher gave, and done his homework. His face was red and his eyes holding back tears. "I hate Valentine's Day! It's a stupid holiday!"

Utterly bewildered, and at that moment, feeling more pressed for dinner than my son's psychological state, I tried being rational. "But, you saw a monkey..."

"It's stupid." he sulked.

So I tried a different response.
"It's not really a holiday made for kids sweetie. It's really more for couples, like me and your Daddy." I showed him the roses I'd received.

"We didn't do enough." he humphed.

Letting aside the desire to scream about what? which took considerable love on my part, I asked, "What would you have us do?" Visions of the Principal having to walk a tight rope over live lions came to my head.

He wanted a fancy dinner. I happened to have a pot roast which, if sliced properly looked like steak --that's what he called it and that's what I said I was serving.

He wanted us to tell each person why we loved them.
The Mom in me approved. This did not seem impossible, so I pulled out the red tablecloth and the good china and he felt comforted.

So we tried to sit for dinner and each tell what we loved about another. One kid tried to be clever "I love her because she's not stupid." and it got her sister mad. And rightly so. I had a spoon I used as gavel. Judge Mom would solve this.

The toddler spilt her orange juice causing a giant mess and forcing me to call a brief recess, as I sponged up the floor and wiped her down. In the meantime, the other toddler wolfed down his food and ran off to change back into his dinosaur costume.

My oldest two, buzzing from chocolate and other sweets and a semi-non academic day complete with lower primates started fencing with air epees. The dinner had been eaten and the five year old was huffing as they hadn't gotten to her yet.

Reassembling the crowd with the promise of desserts, we tried again. But the karma was off and no one was listening and when one brother refused to say something nice about one of his sisters, the one who ate her valentine candy in front of him and it was his favorite, without sharing despite begging, he got ugly. It got ugly. I got tired. I yelled. I lost it. The Judge Mom had lost her judgement in that moment.

The sentimental one who wanted this whole deal started to cry and I knew I mistrialed in motherhood at that moment.

Now I felt so lost it was hard to speak. Here I had broken a holiday but good. There was a hard silence as all the children looked at their mother who was searching for words and feeling drained and frustrated. But the very same son pointed out this was why we needed Valentine's day --and with a hard hug, he reset the table mentally. He even brought me diet coke.

The older ones heard him and sat down. Even Dino boy came back.

So it wasn't perfect and it wasn't my finest, but it was his. And next year, we'll celebrate his style of Valentine's day.

I'll be funnier later. In the meantime, try

1 comment:

Christine said...

A hug AND diet Coke? awesome son.

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!