By Katie Hellmuth Martin
I am writing you a Valentine’s note today from the depths of Snow Day Season, where schools get closed, delayed and dismissed early. This season is a struggle for most parents because it involves being inside, de-icing a car and putting children into it to drive to the grocery store to get essentials and entertainment (cupcake mix and frosting), shoveling sidewalks and steps, running out of cat food, and generally picking up the house on an ongoing basis. By the end, your body hurts!
While bleaching the snow slush and melted sugar from the floor in the early hours of the morning before everyone woke up, I realized: Blimey, Valentine’s Day is this week! Did I get the gifts that I’d intended to? Do I have time today? Wait, what day is it? Egads! The Tooth Fairy was supposed to come last night!
Before the flickers of failure take over your mind, know this: it’s easier than you think to create the love that the day is about. The busy stuff, the Valentine’s Day cards, the prep work, the little friends, the well wishes: All of these gestures go far and plant themselves into the minds of the little people around you.
It could be a note, a single chocolate kiss, or a new special experience that you’ve never done before.
Earlier this winter, we visited a treat store after an evening round of shoveling. Inside, there was a new candy display that we’d never seen before, and the colors of the wrapping inspired our every sugary, happy impulse. My little one looked up at me and asked: “Can I get two pieces of candy?” (He can never make up his mind.) I looked at him and gave a solid: “YES.”
The person behind the counter commented: “Ooh, you spoil them.” No stranger to judgment, I was ready. Yes, I do. Because there is a lot I say “No” to that you don’t see. Constantly. Could be with the TV. Devices. Jumping on couches. Nicely plowed snow banks that beg jumping into just because it’s fun (but the neighbor might not appreciate the newly kicked snow on his cleared sidewalk).
As parents, we are always saying “No” and distracting our children with questions to somehow convince them of our frame of mind. It rarely works, and my little ones are getting better at answering back, cornering me with come-back rhetorical questions. In the aisles of Key Food this week, my son asked me: “Can we get the marshmallows for s’more’s during the snow day?”
My answer: “I thought we decided that we only liked marshmallows from Hudson Valley Marshmallow, and that we weren’t buying these store ones anymore?”
It was dark outside, and he knew we weren’t going to another store. Chances were slim of hopping down the road to get those special marshmallows.
His response: “But we want to make s’mores tomorrow.” Coming up with opposing questions was getting tiring. There was only so much quick thinking I could do with my other little one squirming in the grocery cart and my third one on a mission to get the graham crackers. So, yes to the s’mores. Yes!
Was I on time this year for Valentine’s Day? Yes. Why? Because my son had strep throat and swollen tonsils last week and could only eat pancakes. After the doctor’s appointment, we went to Cracker Barrel for breakfast, and out we came with the biggest Rice Krispies treat we had ever seen (2 feet). A valentine from my son to my daughter.
The previous week, we were on a Special Mission for a birthday present and a Jo Jo Siwa hair clip. Off to Walmart we went. And out we came with boxes of classmate Valentine’s cards, chocolates and heart baggies. My most ambitious attempt at class Valentines to date.
For my husband: I found the remote control that our toddler put into a vase one month ago! It got a big red bow. Finally, we can turn off the TV without unplugging it.
Pat yourself on the back, dear reader. Give yourself a heart. It’s never too late to give a friend a valentine. You’re doing great.