Every year on February 14th we celebrate love and all of its forms.
While most adults tend to associate Valentine's Day with intimacy and romance, I actually appreciate the childhood side of it. By giving them a list of the kids in their class and encouraging them to give a valentine to EVERYONE on that list, we are teaching our children that EVERYONE deserves kindness. I think this differs from the idea that everyone gets a trophy- not everyone earns accolades, but generosity and affection is universal. Sometimes people are awful, even nasty, but we are all still capable of showing them love. By being kind, kindness will find them more often than not, even at eight years old.
I tell my kids often that while they are never to be mean or rude to anyone, they don't have to be friends with everyone. Just this past week my son received an invitation to a birthday party for a kid from school. When I mentioned it to my son and noticed that he quickly shut down on me, I simply asked him about the other little boy. The response I got was, "He's sometimes mean to me on the playground", and said he really didn't want to go. Again, while we don't have to be rude, being friends with everyone is not a requirement for life and I RSVP'd that we wouldn't be able to make it. I have no idea if the invitation was an attempt to be kind after being mean or simply a blanket invite to everyone at recess, but I'm not going to force my son to spend time with someone he doesn't want to, especially at a birthday party. However, I'm still glad my son had a valentine for this little boy when he went to school. Regardless of how he treats my son, I want my son to treat him with kindness, even if that kindness says, "I love you with Maul my heart" with a picture of Darth Maul on it and a temporary tattoo. Valentine's Day teaches kids that they can still do that.
Children also show us pure love and enthusiasm. This past weekend we had another birthday party (birthday parties are kind of a constant with two elementary school age children), and a large number of the kids in attendance were from my son's baseball team. My husband is the coach, and we all were there at the start of the party. Baseball season really won't start back up for another month, and one little boy from the team hasn't seen my husband since the season ended last June. When he looked over and saw his coach, his eyes lit up, his jaw dropped as he gasped, and he ran over to give the man who taught him baseball the biggest hug. He was just so happy to see him. I'm actually grateful that my husband is strong enough to pick up this 4th or 5th grader, because that kind of hug warrants leaving the ground.
It had nothing to do with romance, hearts, or flowers, but that moment was love at its purest, and yes I choked up.
If you have ever had someone run to give you a hug, you are loved.
If you have ever had someone pick you up off the ground, you are loved.
If you have ever had someone gasp when they see you, you are loved.
If you have ever had someone cry when they receive a gift from you, you are loved.
If your heart skips a beat in excitement when you get a note, letter, even text from someone, tell them they are loved.
If you have ever had someone hold your hand when you are upset, you are loved.
If you have ever had children argue over who gets to hold your hand, you are loved more than you know.
You are loved.
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