All you need is love.

(This was one of my first columns about love. And may I say that I feel love for all of you on this very special day....)

When I was in kindergarten a little boy in my class brought me flowers for Valentines Day. Unfortunately I was a bit shy back then and I refused them. A bit later that day I was called into the principal’s office (The first of MANY visits.) and was asked very nicely by the principal why I wouldn’t accept her son’s flowers. I immediately started crying hysterically (Oh my gosh I still do that when I go the principal’s office- now I know why!) until she finally ushered me back to class. I have given and received many a Valentine’s Day gift since then. In fact, the truth of the matter is, I remember more Valentine’s Day gifts than I do birthday gifts.

I also vividly remember the first boy I ever loved. His name was Robbie Drisholl. He was in my third grade class, and just the cutest boy you’d ever, ever seen. I loved him, I really did! There was only one problem - my sister, who was in my class, loved him too. Kathy had long, brown hair that went to her waist, pretty blue eyes, and won our in-class “Simon Says” dance contest. (The Archies song, remember?) Unfortunately the dance contest was held on the same day I snuck to school wearing my mother’s garter belts and nylons that kept falling around my ankles. It was not a pretty sight and needless to say I had no chance with Robbie Drisholl, or making the Simon Says dance team. My heart was broken on Valentines Day, and I didn’t have the principal to help me out.

In each chapter of your life this particular day means many different things. When you are very young it is about giving valentines to your classmates, and how many valentines you receive in turn. It’s about decorating the Valentine’s Day bag, box or envelope. We’re immersed in glitter, glue, foil paper and doilies! (The bigger, the sparklier, the better!!!) The Valentine’s Day party in elementary school is the biggest and most anticipated party of the year. It’s even bigger than Halloween, believe it or not. At this age everyone receives a valentine, everyone! If only that would continue into middle school and high school- far few people would be in therapy, I’m sure.

When we began our discussion about Valentine’s Day this year, most of the kids decided that Valentine’s Day was about buying stuff for people. According to Kyle, our resident “Little Professor”, if you really, really, really love someone, you buy that person a card AND some candy. Most of the kids agreed that you buy people cards on Valentines Day. Our discussion then took many twists and turns, as by now you all know. We talked about love, candy, doll babies, Egypt (I don’t even know how that came up.), slavery, puppies, Cara’s sister Heather’s turtles, and someone’s transformer. There was a brief, somewhat hysterical discussion about the “love man” who the kids told me was pink, had an arrow “fing”, made people love each other, and wore a diaper. After I regained some control over the discussion (which is never easy) I decided to poll some other classes about what love means. I simply couldn’t hold the attention of these five-year old munchkins who wanted nothing to do with love, but desperately wanted to talk about transformers. Here are the sweet results.

Love looks like pink letters and doily’s; love looks like sweet things; love looks weird; love looks like a heart; love looks like cupid.

Love feels warm in your heart; love feels like my blanket; love feels like cupid hit you; love feels like a hug; and love feels like hot chocolate.

Love smells like vanilla; love smells like chocolate; love smells like flowers; love smells like roses; and love smells like boys and gentlemen.

Now that I am forty-something, I often look back and think about love, and the many times love has come along in my life. The most surprising love of all is the love you feel the moment you lay eyes on your precious child. It is honestly a feeling that is so very hard to describe. (Those of you fortunate enough to have children out there know what I am talking about.) This love grows and grows until you think that your heart will probably burst. (I will say, however, that during the years of 14 – 18, this love camouflages itself with another emotion entirely.)

When all is said and done, it really is all about love. As the years go by we come to know these truths: Love breaks our hearts, love lifts us up, love fills us, love heals us, and love saves us.

And, of course, we all know it’s true – and didn’t the Beatles say it so well - all you need is love.


Brian Miller said...

yes it does...and though nothing quite scars like love at times...love still wins in the end...

Kyddryn said...

I never got valentines. I was the awkward girl in the back row who waited silently through the passing out of the cards, the one who maybe got a pity one at the end, hastily filled out and handed to her by the teacher who realized that one desk/shoe-box was empty.

Later, in my teens, I got one...at the end of the day, again thrown together by well-meaning class mates who figured out that none of them had thought of the quiet, shy often puzzling girl who kept to her habit of sitting in the back and bucked the trend of "dating" or crushing on anyone, mostly because she felt it was pointless as the sentiment would go unreturned, and why waste her time or cause awkwardeness?

I never dated in high school or college because no one asked me out. I figured no one wanted me, and why thrust yourself at people who clearly aren't interested?

I married the first person I ever dated (although not on the first date, because hello? I'm crazy not stupid. Well...not entirely stupid, anyway), later realizing that it wasn't as much because I loved him as because I was lonely and thought maybe he was it, my only chance, no one else would want me (because my logic ran along the lines of "no one wanted me before him, so no one will want me after him)(hey...I said I wasn't stupid, I didn't say I was SMART!). BTW, he never gave me a valentine, either...and birthdays and gift-giving holidays were bascially a wash unless I told him what to get and where to get it, and occasionally wrapped my own gifts, too. Yeah, yeah...

Anyway my point (and I DO have one) is many faceted (and so..umm...extra pointy?? Or, if it's faceted...extra shiny?):

I have no love for Valentines day, which has always been at best an awkward reminder that I am out here in left field on my own.

I have no need to be loved in a cards-and-chocolates kind of way on ONE day of the year. I can be loved (or not) on ANY day of the year, cards-and-chocolates or not. Also, if I have to buy my own chocolates, I'm doing it the day after when they are on sale - not that I'm not worth full price, you understand, but because I am notoriously cheap.

I am nuttier than a Claxton fruitcake, but I have sense enough to know that without my ex-husband, I would not have my Evil Genius. I love my Evil Genius as only a mother can - madly and without limit. My ex-husband tries my patience, tolerance, and endurance regularly, but I will forgive him many sins for giving me my son.

If I had not realized that having no one trumps having the wrong one, I would not have told my not-ex-at-the-time-husband "I can no longer be your wife", nor found the stregth I needed to shatter HIS world, his carefully constructed and maintained illusion of happiness (mine was already in pieces, had been for years), nor found the resources I needed to go through with the divorce rather than stay married and miserable. I fully expected to spend the rest of my days alone, raising my son and adopting stray cats.

If I had not divorced, I would not have been able to meet my Someone, with whom I have experienced the kind of love that is honest, true, and (until I met him), I believed entirely unattainable and only to be dreamed of.

Without my Someone, I would not now also have our Sprout (three weeks old in a handful of hours, time's flying!) and the realization that I CAN be loved, that I CAN love, that I am NOT broken, useless, worthless, and undeserving of happiness.

Without me, my Someone would still be nursing a wounded spirit, himself.

We are, through love (and a lot of hard work, endurance, and cussed determination), healing ourselves and each other.

I still think V-Day is largely bunk...but I can see why people think love is worth celebrating.

I just think V-Day celebrates it incompletely.

I'll shut up, now.

Shade and Sweetwater,

Cheeseboy said...

You're so right about the Valentines Day Elementary party. Our party today was filled with nothing but love. Too bad it is a tradition that eventually dies out.

Reg said...

Oh Miss Smythe. I wish your comment about /everyone/ receiving a valentine in elementary school were true and not just optimistic thinking. I remember very keenly coming home from school first and second grades in tears on valentines because I'd put forth the effort to make things for everyone else and got nothing but an empty shoebox I'd painstakingly decorated as well in return.

Third through Fifth grades, I was conveniently "sick" on the day cards were being passed around.

That said, this was a very well written and lovely entry and I enjoyed it a lot. Thank you for the rest of it.

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Vodka Logic said...

So true about laying your eyes on your child. My children also made me realize how much my parents love me.

WeaselMomma said...

You are loved! At least by me.

Unknown said...

The Beatles knew what love was all about, didn't they?

Carla said...

I honestly can't recall whether I received cards when I was in grammar school. Either it was so horrible I've blocked it out, or so insignificant as to have fallen out of my seriously overcrowded brain. As a teenager through adulthood, some years I did, some years I didn't, it all depended on whether I was seeing someone or not. Now I've been married for a very long time, and my wonderful husband never forgets Valentine's Day, but I honestly don't care. He shows me his love every day of the year, so the only thing that makes Valentine's Day any different is the gift of pistachio nuts. I don't want to sound as if I take love for granted, because I don't. I wish the rest of the world could know love like I have been fortunate enough to find.

Susan Higgins said...

Love your post. Your story about the kids is heartwarming.

Valentine's this year taught me that not only Mother's get the gift of love but so do Care Givers!

My mom made me a card.

duffylou said...

My Mom and Dad got married on Valentine's Day. At least Dad can never forget their anniversary. This year it was number 63. Valentine's Day is my parents day. I love celebrating for them.

I don't remember much from school.
I used to be a romantic. Now I'm just realistic. Ooo, not very love sounding. Let me go back to my first paragraph...

SkylersDad said...

I think love is when you still want to be with someone after the kids are born and you both are sleep deprived and feeling like hell.

Jen said...

Wonderful post! I'm very happy I found my way here :D

I love how you've described Valentine's Day through the eyes of Elementary School. I'd forgotten about the glitter and the giggles and the cupcakes. I think next year, I'm hosting my own "Kindergarten Valentine's Party" for grown ups :D

Nice to "meet" you!

Captain Dumbass said...

My 7 year old wasn't too keen on bringing Valentine's so he decided he wanted to make everybody in his class a Valentine's paper airplane. His teacher, he work-share teacher who wouldn't be working Valentine's Day, agreed but only if they were handed out at the end of class.

My hands still hurt from folding 26 airplanes for his class and teachers. How did I get stuck with that?

Adrienne said...

love is so many different things to different people at different parts of their lives.

Macey said...

Awww, I love what they said about what love is. :)

cheatymoon said...

My students were so geeked about Valentine's day yesterday. The adults in the room were lucky to be there for it. So sweet.

Great, great post. xoxo

Gayle said...

You are so right about 14-18 being an emotion not related to love. In fact, for some it starts at 12. Even 11. I did not get them chocolates.

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