Whatever you do, love those who love you.
If you have more than one child - or grandchild - you know the importance of treating them each alike. Buy a gift for one, and you need something comparable for the other. Take one on an outing, and the other invariably wants to go along. Think you can fool the ungifted or uninvited ones, think again. Superconductive brains inhabit those little heads.
For several years Ive enjoyed frequent trips and overnights with one of my granddaughters. However, now that her little sister is 3 going on 17, the wails, pouts, and teases to be included have reached the heart-wrenching - and earsplitting - stage. The older child resents the limitations her little sister puts on our plans and, though Grandma doesnt handle two children at a time as well as she once did, the little ones tears are increasingly harder to resist.
There are solutions, of course, like having the younger one out of sight when the grandma bus arrives, sending her to the other grandmother, or using the occasion to explain the unfairness of life. On second thought, scratch option No. 3. Consolation gifts and next time promises dont work, either.
As it turns out, after learning that big sister was about to spend the night with me again, this 3-year-old prodigy devised an option all her own.
Grandma, said a sad, little voice on the other end of the line, I got a boo-boo.
Aw, honey, I answered, did your mommy put a Band-Aid on it?
No, I only like your Band-Aids. Can I spend the night?
Needless to say I dug out my super-wonderful Band-Aids, took an extra dose of Geritol, and made room for the proverbial one more.
With Valentines Day approaching, Ive indulged in double cards and gifts for these two loves of my life. Yet, as I think of that little child - the one who a couple of outings ago told me she didnt love me anymore when I wouldnt let her do something dangerous to her life and limb - I keep humming the old Rodgers and Hart song, My Funny Valentine. Though I should probably change the title to My Fickle Valentine, the words are a near perfect fit:
My funny Valentine, sweet comic Valentine,
You make me smile with my heart.
Your looks are laughable, unphotographable,
Yet, youre my favrite work of art....
If youve lived a few lifetimes as I have, your Valentines have run the gamut from school chums to adolescent crushes, from fiancee to husband or wife, and then to the children who added those latter smiles to your heart. Put another way, as someone once told me, Youve never not been loved.
I needed that. The speaker was a counselor easing me through the aftermath of divorce, when Valentines Day was just another lonely day. Today, with a full life and many smiles in my heart, Ive moved miles past that loneliness.
But I remember how it felt. I also remember there was one thing in which I was never alone: With such a high incidence of divorce and broken relationships everywhere I looked, I had lots of company in that feeling of being alone. Also, during those darker days, someone else kept telling me, Its no sin to be lonely. Its only a sin to be lonely alone.
On this Valentines Day my prayer is that there would be far more love, togetherness, and gift-sharing in our midst than loneliness. But for those whose experience doesnt quite match that togetherness description just now, take a look around you. Cards, flowers, or just a friendly hello dont all have to go to a spouse or significant other. Making someone else feel loved is the best way I know to celebrate the day.
And if you really cant find anyone to treat lovingly on Cupids day, I know a little 3-year-old who will drop her crayons, grab an armload of stuffed animals, and jump at the chance to go, too. Ill even supply the Band-Aids.
(Barbara Seaborn is a local free-lance writer. E-mail comments to seabara@ aol.com.)
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