Now that (2 out of 3 of) the kids can write the names on the cards by themselves, this whole Valentine's thing doesn't seem so bad. None of our endeavors reach Pinterest-level creativity, but Pink's cards were heartfelt and full of her personality. Plus, making the cards kept Pink and Sky working together peacefully for close to two hours. I argue that teamwork is WAAAAY better than Pinterest any time.
Sky's teacher suggested that instead of just signing their cards, the kids could write something nice about each of their classmates. At first, this was hard for Sky. For the kids who are his friends, he wrote, "You are my friend." But, for the rest of the class, he was at a loss. I suggested he point out something they do well, so he moved on to things like, "You're good at geography" or "You are fast in math." We might not have gotten beyond the simple declarative statement of fact, but at least he put his heart into it.
When Sky brought his cards home today, it was touching to see what the other kids had written. There was a consistency to their comments that was kind of reassuring. Most of them wrote things like, "you're a good artist" or "you're a good translator" or "you're good at Japanese" or "you're really funny." One girl, who seemed equally as stymied as Sky, wrote, "I like your glasses."
I know it seems corny, but I am really glad his teacher had them write messages on the cards. Sky's been getting bullied on the school bus for the past few weeks. We're on top of it, and the principal has worked with us to come up with some pretty inventive solutions that simultaneously empower Sky while also eliminating much of the problem. But, being told you have no friends or being called "weird" or "freak" can be heartbreaking, especially for a boy who tries so hard but often falls short when trying to fit in with his peers. And, when that boy happens to be both literal and unable to decipher social cues, it helps a lot to have physical proof that the kids in his class really kinda like him.
I look forward to the day when Sky no longer worries about what the other kids think, but I know we are still years from that point. Until then, we will keep doing what his classmates did--pointing out how awesome he is and doing our best to make him believe us.
The real Valentine's Day miracle might be this:
Ren bought flowers.
Ren and I are famously unromantic. In fact, I'm not sure I even like flowers. But, I do really appreciate the gesture, especially because I know that Ren watched the sale flyers for a week or two looking for the best deal and that he made sure to get cash so he could make a quick run to Aldi to pick them up while I got the kids through their homework. I laughed when Ren handed the flowers to me, and said, with a completely straight face, "Here, these should last for at least another 10 years."
I can wait for 10 years. I can wait for a hundred. See, Ren doesn't need to get me flowers. I already know how much he loves me. I see it when he gets up at 4 a.m. to take Stow potty or washes vomit-stained sheets in the middle of the night. I see it when he insists I take two slices of apple with me as I rush out the door to work, or when he sits hunched over the kitchen sink peeling carrots for curry. I see it when he reorganizes the pantry or refrigerator so we can actually find things. I see it when I get home from work to find a sledding slope made of well-packed snow--surrounded by kids' shovels and sleds and a riding toy or two--in the backyard.
Roses? They wither and fade. But the 10,000 tiny acts of perseverance, hard work, and kindness Ren shows day in and day out? Those are the things that will stick with us forever.