Super cute white pants with red hearts ALL over them; that’s what I remember most about Valentine’s Day growing up. They were a genius gift from my parents in the fifth grade. How they got a fifth grader’s style right, I’ll never know. (I am currently struggling with a three year old boy’s style.)
If you dug up old photos, you would see me proudly sporting them with stick-straight hair, badly permed hair, and feathered hair. I wore those pants for as long as I possibly could. They were something else alright. For three years, they were something else.
Looking back, I can tell you exactly why I loved them. I collected heart stickers. I wrote heart poetry. I studied the human heart in depth for the fun of it. I delved way beyond the normal girl love of hearts into fanatical heart territory. My parents knew this well. They knew me well.
I cried when they gave me my red heart pants over breakfast. Not because they were absurd, but because this gift communicated understanding. My parents knew that I was the heart girl, they accepted this bizarre love of mine, and they valued it. Really it was far less about the pants and much more about that understanding.
I wonder how many times they could have rolled their eyes at my heart stories, but chose instead to be a captive audience, engaged in every detail. I wonder if they ever thought I would turn out somewhat normal. I wonder how much they shelled out to get those pants in the first place. Knowing them, they skimped on themselves to show love to me. I wonder if they secretly hoped I would be a heart surgeon.
We all know there’s nothing quite like that feeling of being known and loved for who we are. As adults who champion kids, we want to be understood and we need to communicate understanding. Our children are looking for more of the same.
This Valentine’s Day, communicating understanding may look like sitting and watching a movie with a little guy cuddled in our lap. It may look like hearing yet another absurd joke and laughing anyway. It may look like a love letter to your little girl under her pillow, or maybe tickling and wrestling. It may look like pancakes, sandwiches, or brownies cut in heart shapes. Goodness, it may even look like super cute white pants with hearts printed all over them.
It can look like anything really, as long as it communicates that understanding. Then it will communicate love.