My first Valentine arrives. "Happy Valentine's Day," it reads. "Hugs and kisses for you. I love you. John"
I cry when I open it.
Does it matter that this is all his teacher's doing, that John is three years old and no way did he cut out the heart, draw the smiley faces, or even fold the construction paper?
He did trace the "I love you. John," and he probably stuck the X and O stickers onto the page. That works for me! I am a true sucker when it comes to kids' crafts. I may get all maudlin about my birthday, but Mother's Day is a cinch. One hand print and a dash of illegible writing, and I can feel the oxytocin coursing through my motherly veins.
No doubt the entire blogosphere has heard of Amy Chua, the now infamous "Tiger Mother." I haven't read her book, but I did hear that among other draconian parenting practices, she would routinely return her daughters' homemade birthday cards if she didn't feel they were well executed.
Not this Mama.
Love that messy writing. Love those tiny hand prints. Love the fact that for years Tim would sign both name and age to everything. Timmy 5! Timmy 6! Timmy 7!
Then again, I like baby talk and think John's lisp --which may cost us a fortune in speech therapy--is nothing but pwecious.
The boys' first grade teacher scored big with her Mother's Day gift. She recorded each child reading a book and had the children give the cassettes to their mothers. Capturing the voice of a six-year-old--so special.
At the end of second grade, the boys' teacher bound every piece of writing they had done that year. Flipping through them brings back Tim's ardent desire to explore Mars and Kolbe's love of espionage. Archiving the dreams of a seven-year-old--irreplaceable.
After he hands me the Valentine, John sees that I am mixing up a nutritious lunch of boxed macaroni and cheese.
"Let me spill the cheese! Let me spill the cheese!" he yells.
John never uses the word pour or even dump; it's always spill. Let me spill the milk. Let me spill the waffle mix. I find this both appropriate and hilarious.
Instead of correcting him, I am overwhelmed by everything that makes three so imperfectly sweet.
"You are so cute, John," I tell him.
"Yeah," he laughs, "I am."
And I am his Valentine.