On Monday, Thing 2 and I went into Walmart. We were in desperate need of things like… well… FOOD. We were hanging on by a thread at our house and had gotten to the point where I looked into our refrigerator and pantry, and wondered what I could make for dinner with a can of green beans, some cornstarch, and a bottle of hot sauce.
While we were busy getting the necessities (Cereal! Coffee! Chicken breasts! Half and half!), we took notice of the mass amount of teenagers in the super center, buying roses and stuffed animals.
There’s nothing that says, “Valentine’s Day is tomorrow,” like seeing a seventeen-year-old boy walking around Walmart, with an arm thrown around the neck of a five-foot-tall bear, as he clutches it to his side. Thing 2 and I know that at least six high school girls were blessed with giant teddy bears for the Love Holiday.
Those were simpler times, y’all. Being a teenager on Valentine’s Day was EASY. All you had to do was walk into the store at the age of seventeen, find a white, fluffy, stuffed animal with a bright red nose, gripping a satin heart that said, “WILL YOU BE MINE,” and your shopping was finished. If you actually had a part-time job and made real money, you could spring for six red roses to go with the stuffed animal, and the girl was guaranteed to gush about it to all her friends. And after those roses died? Well, that teenage girl would have hung them upside down, to dry them in a manner that would have done ancient Egyptian embalmers proud, so that they could be preserved in a vase on a bedroom shelf for all eternity.
Or until someone touched one and a dried-up, brown petal crumbled into dust.
If you were THE GIRL, all you really had to do was go to the mall and buy a bottle of Polo cologne. Yes, it was going to cost you the equivalent of a month’s car payment on your 1982 Honda Accord, but could you really put a price tag on WE ARE SOOOO IN LOVVVVVEE!?
Then you get married.
And married people sigh and ask one another, “Do we really need to get each other something?”
Which is when the husband usually responds with, “Um… no. Definitely not. When is Valentine’s Day again?”
This year, I pulled out all the stops for our boys. I bought the boy a gift card to Taco Bell. It’s because I roamed the Walmart aisles so long, my bag of frozen broccoli thawed and started to drip through the shopping cart, and I still couldn’t find anything that just shouted my older son’s name, in the terms of a Valentine’s Day gift from his mama.
He already had a hoard of candy leftover from Halloween and Christmas, that was starting to go stale on a shelf in his closet. After my brain nearly exploded with WHAT CAN I GET THAT KID, THAT DOESN’T COST A THOUSAND DOLLARS, I settled for a gift card.
Taco Bell it was.
I felt lame. I felt like I was losing the mothering game. What kind of mama would say, “I couldn’t find you anything, so here’s a consolation gift card?”
I instantly went from feeling like I had failed in the gift-giving department to feeling like I had just won the jackpot of the coveted Mother of the Year tiara. The boy looked at me and said, “Oh, my gosh! I can eat at Taco Bell and not spend any of my own money there! THIS IS SO AWESOME!! I’m going to treat myself to a Valentine’s Day taco after school today!”
So THAT went well.
Thing 2 was a cinch to buy for. Matchbox cars are one of his most precious love languages, so he got a little car with a car launcher. The launcher set me back six entire American dollars. You insert the car into the end of it, pull the lever, and the car shoots out the other end, does a flip, and (with luck) lands on all four of its wheels and streaks away on the hardwood floors.
The answer was a firm NO. We will not sacrifice our educations to flip cars off little plastic ramps.
And then I picked up some steaks and some potatoes… some salad fixings and a giant loaf of crusty bread… and some broccoli that had once been frozen… and Hubs grilled dinner, while I was at Bible study last night.
Because we’re NOT seventeen any more, I didn’t sacrifice Bible study for Valentine’s Day!
I came home to a fantastic dinner, which we ate late with our two boys. We talked about high school classes and how hard the college-level US History class continues to be. We talked about other high school classes, and how easy advanced chemistry still is. We talked about preschool, and how VEGETABLE and VALENTINE’S are the two longest V-words in the entire world. We examined our salad and classified the carrots, lettuce and cucumbers as VEGETABLES.
I told Thing 2, “And if you’d stayed home from school to flip Matchbox cars all morning, you never would have gotten to learn the big VEGETABLE word and sort fruits and veggies with your friends!”
And THAT, y’all, is how Valentine’s Day panned out at our house. When you’re old, you don’t need a giant stuffed bear to say I LOVE YOU. Instead, I LOVE YOU gets said every day, in the way Hubs makes my coffee every morning, and the way I wash his favorite sweats as often as I can, so he can lounge around the house in them every night. It’s grilling a steak for someone, while she’s at Bible study, or stepping back from putting your mascara on at the bathroom mirror, so he can spit toothpaste in the sink.
However, I’m not going to lie.
I miss the smell of Polo cologne!