Be My Valentine #sol21
February 16, 2021
She peers into the screen right before we hang up from our zoom session. She leans forward and bites her lip. Did you get my valentine? No, I say. I gave the same one to everyone in my class she says dismissively. I consider the valentine for a moment as we hang up. It could be anywhere now. In our new pandemic world, Valentine’s Day came in two separate Fridays, one for each cohort. Each student brought in their valentines, let them sit for two days. Distributed them to pre-made bags that sat for two days and then squirreled them home. No party, no candy and this year, no sparkly traditional Valentine sweater on me. I think I actually wore a black turtle neck that day.
I didn’t think about that valentine again for four days until I dropped by that class to leave some books for her teacher. A tiny pile of valentines was waiting for me on my desk, the stand-up desk I use when I visit for morning meeting each morning. It’s one of the only classes I spend any real time with this year. Twenty minutes each morning, Monday through Friday, I play the sidekick to the teacher as she starts the day with the students at home and in person.
But in this small moment, that small pile of three valentines does something to my insides. They are all homemade. Each crafted by one of those miraculous kids. Those smart, funny beings growing each day. I am so lucky... so very lucky. I carry them back to the literacy center to savor. One is a small ornate dish with fuzzy velvet on the bottom. The sides are brilliant blue with a modern scroll. I set it in the middle of my blotter running my finger along the top rim. The second is a pink origami box. The lid closed over the softly creased sides.
The last valentine is red construction paper folded over with writing on the front and inside. There is a drawing of two people in the inside. Me and my valentine. It says I’m glad you help in our class and help me in remote. I feel my heart grow just like that cartoon of the grinch, bigger and bigger until it squeeze the insides of my insides. My throat closes just a little and a tiny tear squeezes out from the corner of my eye.
These kiddos probably don’t know this but I’ve been keeping valentines and thank you notes from little sustainers like them … for decades. Little reminders that those novels I find to slip on someone’s desk, those minutes I ask can I listen to your reading, could you read me your writing, what can I help you with are not just words. Each word and moment might mean more to that students.. and maybe their grown-ups and their teachers than it seems in the moment.
So I thank my valentine this year for reminding me that the hard days, the lonely days, the small glimpses of normalcy are worth it, not just to me, but to them. I still have a little magic left in my day to day. There’s a reason to show up and give it 100% again tomorrow and the days after.