Love, Kid-Style

Valentine’s Day from a different angle

Unpopular opinion: I love Valentine’s Day!

Not many people that I know (especially those of us who are single) ever say those words. To many, it’s just a reminder that we don’t have a special someone to shower us with attention for one day of the year.
The love songs hurt a bit extra this holiday, and the mushy messages on candy hearts seem to taunt us and forget about a special date night for two!

Sure, it can be depressing; however, my Valentine’s Day is never made special by any of this.
I see Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to show love and be loved by family and friends without the pressure that comes with Christmas or birthdays.

You can give anyone a Christmas gift. Not everyone gives valentines.

I say this as I have just recently finished making about thirty or so handwritten paper hearts for my job. I have worked at the same childcare center for nearly four years now, and I have made a habit of cutting out my own paper hearts for each child and for each of my coworkers, complete with a personal message written especially for that individual.

We spent the summer of 2021 making alphabet popsicles out of baby footprints. Photo Credit | Katie Leier

I don’t have to. Making valentines is not part of my job description. Yes, everyone at my job, kiddos, and staff alike makes valentine’s bags to collect whatever comes our way, my manager always sends the memo to families and employees that “Valentines from home are welcome, but not required”.
I do it because I love them.

I have known many of the kiddos their entire lives. I’ve seen their first steps and heard their first words. I hug away owies, teach Bible verses, spoon-feed four babies at once and we dance to Coco Melon while I unload the dishwasher.

I love these kids every day, but on Valentine’s Day, I see an opportunity to let each child know this. Since all our children are under the age of six, I know most will never have a crystal-clear memory of the years I spend with them.

They might never remember me, but with a Valentine, I can write down exactly what I love about each child so they can keep it forever. They may never be able to put a face to the signature, but they can know that I love them. I taught them, cared for them, and poured my heart out for them.

They will never remember the hours I spent holding them while they slept when they refused to nap in a crib. They won’t remember the cuddles on the floor with a pile of books, nor the dance parties or messy art projects. They won’t know that I spent an hour feeding the slowest eaters or that I cried with them when they were in tears from hunger, yet refused to drink from a bottle.

They won’t remember how many times I cleaned up after them, how many sets of my clothes have been stained from various foods, art materials, or bodily fluids, or my frustration at the lack of listening skills that a two-year-old possesses.

But I remember. I know each and every kiddo by name, all through the years. I am honored and humbled to care for these children day after day. I see my coworkers who pour their own hearts into these children, giving more time than I am able, and I love them for it.

This is my Valentine’s Day. A time when I can personally express to each child how much I care for them and how much I love teaching them, even on the days when all that I can see are temper tantrums, toddlers who refuse naps, sobbing babies, and a pile of dirty dishes.

Love is a quiet, candlelit dinner for two, love songs, and romance.

But it is also baby smiles, happy screams from a toddler, and story time. Whatever your Valentine’s Day looks like, I pray it is just as happy as mine, romantic relationship or not. I will be spending mine with about two dozen of the sweetest Valentines I know.

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