I think once you get past that honeymoon phase in your relationship and move into Kidland, Valentine's Day just isn't the same. This year, ours went something like this.
I made the kids favorite dinner - lemon chicken...which I have grown tired of because they beg me to make it all the time. But, I knew it would make them happy so out came the lemons and the chicken. After dinner, I pulled out three little gift bags. I always give a little something Valentine's Day...usually a little trinket, a heart full of chocolate, and some other little candy. That's what kid memories are made of, right? Candy. This year I made "cupid's arrows" which were skinny pretzels with a candy sugar heart on one end and red sugar arrows on the other end. I handmade little gift tags that said "Use With Caution". I should note that when I made them I overdosed on red sugar hearts and will likely never be able to look at them again, never mind snack on them.
I set the gifts down on the table and everyone scattered like mice. Well, everyone but Jack who looked like a deer caught in the headlights. He froze, blinked, then ran, like his hair was on fire and he wasn't sure where to go to find some water. Everyone came back with their gifts in hand, except Jack. He never came back. Finally I called to him and after a pause he said, "Uh...yeah, when I walked into the playroom I bumped into the markers and they fell all over the floor. I'll be there in a minute." I told him to forget the markers and just join us in the kitchen. He replied with, "Uhhh, I have to just look at something..." Finally he ran out and he threw a card at me.
It was made out of pink construction paper and written in red letters on the outside it said "happy Valentines day, Mom". Then inside it said "Can I be your Valentine (except for Dad)? Love, Jack". He is thirteen. Now listen, I tear up over the Ellen show every time I watch it...I tear up at commercials. But this....it just made me cry. How cute! Okay, granted, he didn't think of it ahead of time, but the first thing that came to his mind in a pinch was "Can I be your Valentine?" So darn cute.
Fast forward three days later to Friday when Jack got his braces off. I was preparing myself for waterworks days in advance... I teared up when he got them on and I knew seeing his smile without braces again was going to set me off. Sure enough, there I was dabbing at my eyes in the ortho's office, much to Jack's shock and horror. Or maybe it was the camera I pulled out of my purse and made him smile for...right there in the doctor's office. When we got into the car, he immediately pulled down the visor mirror and flashed his pearly whites. He didn't skip a beat before he said, "Can you get me some contacts at the store this weekend? Then I can go back to school after vacation a new man!" Look out, Ladies...Jackie is on the loose!
I love that he still has moments of being a little boy while he is navigating his way through his teen years. I know I'm on the cusp of this vulnerability disappearing but I will take it as long as I can get it. Sadly, for Jack, my tears brought on by every little sweet minute in life will never go away. The tears...and the camera... will keep coming out...no matter how old he is.