My 9-year-old son has deemed this “holiday” his least favorite by far (although I informed him that, technically, it’s not a holiday, since he doesn’t have the day off school).
Sure, he’s fulfilled his Third Grade obligations, albeit begrudgingly so. He slapped together a Valentine “mailbox”: an oatmeal box with an explosion of bright paint, a lone puff ball and button, topped off with crumpled-up, paint-covered streamers that look like they turned up under the couch after a five-year-old’s birthday party. He addressed his NBA Valentines and taped Tootsie Pops to them. He’s helped roll out cookie dough, made some hearts and even enjoyed adorning them with sprinkles.
But what’s different this year is the air with which he’s done them. There’s a coolness about him, almost a sense of bored detachment. Gone are the childlike wonder and fun; they’re replaced by a sense of let’s-hurry-up-and-get-this-done. A sense of disinterest in a day that’s overrun with red hearts, cupid, and frivolity. It’s quite obvious that Valentine’s Day ranks at the bottom of his list.
It’s another step away from childhood into young manhood.
Another step from Curious George to Harry Potter and the Hardy Boys, and he’s teetering on the brink.
A step in which he draws his own conclusions and forms his own opinions. Like checking the time/date stamp on the Christmas Eve pictures on our digital camera, seeking proof about the authenticity of the Jolly guy who resides at the North Pole.
Which means that it’s another time for me to take a step back, like it or not, to let him become who he’s going to become. To let him draw those conclusions and form those opinions. To let him wholeheartedly believe that a day that celebrates Shamrock shakes and a magical munchkin is way better than one that celebrates love.
Yes, I fear for his future girlfriend. I ache for his prom dates.
But as he sets off with his dilapidated mailbox and homemade cookies on what he views as a silly, superfluous day—one that’s “even worse than the leprechaun’s day”—I wish him a top o’ the morning in my heart.