It’s Valentine’s Day. This is a very big holiday in the first grade, in case you didn’t know. Ava has been preparing for this day for over two weeks, when she first brought home the class list. We were soon out buying Valentine’s Day cards – this year it would be Spongebob (and thankfully this year the box comes not with those nasty gummy crabby patties but with red heart-shaped lollypops). And of course we had to rush right home and start addressing all of them, even before we were allowed to use the bathroom. The countdown was announced each day, so that I would know just how many days until this day of all days. She carefully picked out each card for each classmate, and checked off the list herself. She didn’t really want my help other than to keep her company, a stark contrast to years past with Owen and the assembly-line style of Valentine’s cards – with me addressing, Owen signing, and Ava attaching the candy/tattoo/sticker/whatever to it.
She has two boys in her class that she likes a lot, which I happen to think is really cute. I wouldn’t dare tell her this, but rather take it very seriously in conversations with her about them. It’s especially cute at Parent Pick-up after school, when I’m waving her over and she has to stop and say goodbye to Riley – who she just saw not 5 minutes earlier in the classroom as they were packing up to leave. I remember my own first grade crush on an older boy – a second-grader named John. He lived in my complex and I just thought he was all that. I wrote him love notes and he tore them up when I handed them to him. Somehow, I was not deterred by this form of affection. My daughter seems to bask in the attention she’s getting, and seems to lack her mother’s earlier direct approach to love. She’s content to stand back and let love come to her.
Meanwhile, the fifth grade proves to be a continuance of the head-in-the-sand approach to girls. My son notices girls – I know he does – but damned if he’s going to act like they exist. This year he’s also apparently too cool to do Valentine’s cards, and apparently the teachers have enough sense to make it optional this year. When I first asked him he said, I don’t want to do them, and I wasn’t surprised. Yet, I also wanted to know if he’d be the only kid not bringing any. Then he brought home the announcement and class list, “in case your child wants to participate.” And so, he was off the hook.
Owen wants nothing to do with girls. Well, unless they like to play Wizard 101. Otherwise, he doesn’t want to talk about them. I wonder if he talks to them? I once asked him a while back if he has any girl –friends (not to be confused with girlfriends), or if he talks to them. He said, um, no, not really. And got slightly annoyed with me for asking. Meanwhile, for the last 2 years or so, I have watched him become noticeably stealthy in the presence of a young lady – stealthily ducking behind whatever display is closest or, if none are available, simply turning his back like a cool dude and picking up some really important conversation with me.
One weekend a few years ago we were out mall shopping as a family – I was talking to Owen when suddenly he bent over behind a clothing rack so fast at first I thought he’d fainted. When I realized he was just adjusting his velco-closures on his Skechers, I glanced up and saw this really cute little girl about his age walking by. I asked him if he knew her and my sweet boy’s eyes turned dark and narrow as he hissed, stop it mom! at me. The shopping continued into other stores, but the daggers in his eyes never abated, as he avoided me like the plague and insisted we were embarrassing him, casting sideways glances in all directions to assess the gender distribution.
Just last week we were leaving the grocery store, and I saw a girl and her mother come in and I recognized her immediately as the talkative young lady who followed us so closely at the school walk-a-thon last year. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Owen throw his hood up over his head so it hung down over his face like Obi wan Kenobi’s. He’s 11 now. I’m not cutting him any flack. I looked at him and said, she saw you, you know. And he said, what? I like to wear my hood. Who does he think he’s kidding? I have to admit though, that it throws a little insight into my misunderstanding of boys in my own childhood. The youngest years were peppered with crushes – the first really long one – well, besides Shawn Cassidy – in the third grade was Jonathon Ruth. I don’t think he had a clue. I didn’t then, and I sure as hell know now that he didn’t. Oh well. He is now but a spot on the history of my life.
Valentine’s Day took on less importance as years went by – years of unrequited love and that one day every year in high school when someone could send you a carnation, and you’d wait breathlessly in homeroom to see if there was one for you. And there wasn’t. The aggressive approach I’d had as a 6-year-old had morphed into a more passive approach. Then in 1986 I had a real boyfriend! And, he loved me back! And we did it up in style. He gave me 3 cards with the most beautiful words a 17-year-old boy in love could conjure, and a gold heart necklace that I still have today. Oh yeah – and a heart-shaped box of chocolates. I, in my true think-out-of-the-box style, filled his car up with balloons and put my card on his dashboard. I mean, I filled it. (Well, with a little help and a little lung-power from my bff.) I wasn’t there to see him open the door, but it must’ve been quite a sight to see balloons blowing all over the parking lot.
This boyfriend and I aren’t doing anything particularly special this year… I told him it’s really just another day to me. The dirty rat wrote on my Facebook wall this morning.
I love you with all of my heart. Even today, it is hard to believe that I get to share my life with you, and now that you are in my life, I can’t image how I did it without you. I love you for you, your heart, your soul, your passion, your intensity, your caring and your humor. I have loved you since the beginning that started 25 years ago and every day that passes I love you more. Happy Valentines Day my sweet darling, I LOVE YOU ♥
Who the hell could possibly top THAT?? I felt obliged to come up with something equally touching, to publicly express how in love I am with him and how great he is. However, remember – there’s a little post back in December that sums it up nicely. I defer to that today, along with dedicating my 3.25 mile run in the snow flurries this morning to him – who inspires me every day to be a blessing to others and to be the real me, sugar and sarcasm and all. The rest is private, thank you very much.
I can’t wait to hear how the kids’ days went. It promises to be filled with candy, for sure.
Happy Valentine’s Day! I love you all!