My oldest son has a Valentine.
He has always liked girls, but this is different.
She is not Lauren, the little girl he liked to hold hands with in pre-school.
She is not Dallas, the little girl with waist-long hair, who in kindergarten could make him happy with a smile.
She is not Katie or Emily, girls he admired in second and third grade.
No, this is a girl he really likes, and who likes him back. A girl he has actually asked to be his Valentine (via email). A girl who said yes of course she will be his Valentine and signed her email "love u." A girl he has actually talked to on the phone (for about 40 seconds). A girl he wrote this note to: "For some reason I was thinking about Valentine's Day! You are so going to be my Valentine. You're an awesome friend. Could we be boyfriend/girlfriend super secretly? Please!"
Gulp. This the real thing. A real crush.
This is the girl who, he says, he wants to give something more than "just a card" to on Valentine's Day. He asked me for some suggestions. We pondered flowers (too embarrassing to bring to school), something sweet (chocolates, homemade cookies?). Thank goodness the conversation did not veer off into jewelry. I left him to decide on his own. I could tell this was something that needed to come from his own heart.
Taking into account that he would need to go through some elaborate measures to make sure that he could secretly deliver his Valentine presents to school, he decided on a cupcake from a special local bakery, and a DVD of the movie Shrek 3. He happily spent almost all the money he has, earned by doing yard work, on these gifts.
Seeing evidence of a romantic side in your son is a really touching experience. How innocent and thoughtful he is. And how fleeting that innocence is, I can't help thinking. For the first time in our house Valentine's Day is not all about candy and the chore of making cards for all your classmates (at least not entirely).
It is about that thrill of a first real crush reciprocated.
Ever watchful, the two younger brothers observe everything with a shrewd eye. What do they think of this special Valentine? Interestingly, they don't tease their brother. The youngest rolls his eyes. The middle brother comments, "I think giving her Shrek 3 is kind of weird. I'm glad I don't have anyone to give a special present to." I say to him, "Maybe next year." And he replies, "Yes, probably next year."