Caught in an Act of Love by Emily

It was Valentine’s Day.  A surprise box had arrived from the Monroes chock full of chocolates, hot chocolate mix, parmesan cheese.   In language arts Zoe and Sumner created valentines with puns:  Olive you, You are my sweet tea, I’ve taken a Viking to you,  etc.  The teacher said to give them to someone of the opposite sex. Zoe gave hers to Tim, and Sumner didn’t give his to anyone.  A girl put one on Sumner’s desk but then asked for it back to put it on her bedroom wall.

I prayed for a way to touch my adolescent kids’ hearts. I had a brainstorm — I’d put a heart on each of the sixth graders’ locker door and a few extra on Sum and Zo’s.  Given that this year has been relationally tumultuous, especially for Zoe, I was also hoping to endear Zoe to “the girls” more.

I am teaching fulltime now so had to accomplish this during a break.  I scampered from one end of school to the other.  Unfortunately, a class next to the lockers was about to be dismissed so I hurried away.
The next time I came no one was around. On the floor, at the end of the lockers, I set up a work station.  Hastily, I applied tape to colorful hearts then scurried to stick them up.  Suddenly I heard footsteps so pinned myself against the wall.  Looking down, I saw that the tape dispenser was sticking out.  The footsteps stopped then approached me.  I pulled my tummy in and turned my shoes pigeon toed, but still a curious face peered around the lockers, right at me.
I put my finger to my lips and said authoritatively, “Winkie, you must not tell anyone that it is me.”
He looked at me with wide eyes.  “I’m not Winkie, I’m Howell.”
“Sorry, sorry, Howell.  Pleeeeeze, Howell, don’t tell anyone.”
 He nodded solemnly, “I won’t.”  He left.
 Then I heard voices.  I bolted into the stairwell.
 “What’s this?”
 “I got a heart.”
“Me too.  A bunch of us did, but some didn’t.”
“I hope it’s not from a girl that I don’t like.”
“Look, there’s tape and more hearts. Who’s doing it?”
“Look, there’s some money too.”
“Let’s take it.”
 Darn it.  In my haste, along with the hearts, I’d dumped our taxi money from my pocket.  If someone took it, I’d have bigger issues to deal with.
“No, don’t.”
“We better take it before someone else takes it.”
Then I heard Zoe’s voice, “I think it’s my mother.”
Some kids left.  There was giggling and shuffling of shoes, then all was quiet.
They had moved all of the hearts to one boy’s door. Rats!  If they started moving hearts, someone might end up with no heart, and that could be a disaster.  Hesitantly, I moved the hearts so each had one heart and my kids had a few more. Then I went to lunch.
Zoe met me at the cafeteria door.  “Mom, was that you?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Mom, there wasn’t one on my locker.   Why’d you do that?” Her voice was shrill.
Everyone’s locker around mine had one.”  She was about to cry.
I hadn’t even noticed that when she had come, she didn’t yet have one.
“Zoe, I wasn’t finished.  Go back and look now.”
“Mom, it’s too late.  They all saw I had none.”
Dear God, help. I sat at the teachers’ table as they chattered lightheartedly. Frustrated, I poured out my dilemma.  They suggested I make another big heart and put her name on it.  I was skeptical but desperate.  I had no breaks all afternoon so bolted out the door.
I made curly cues and polkadots  on Zoe’s.  Sumner’s heart was more subdued.  I wrote their names in big letters.  This time I sent my assistant Joanna to do the hanging.
In my class, at the end of the day, we sit in a circle and sing a goodbye song. Before we even finish, little bodies pounce on Joanna and myself.  Toddlers give awesome hugs, and I love it!  Zo and Sum aren’t toddlers anymore.  Their appreciation is more fickle and subtle.  I sit between them on the way home, and exhausted, they lay their head upon my shoulder.  That day I sat quietly, waiting.  Were they pleased or embarrassed?  Would they criticize?
Sumner said, “Mom, you could have made mine more lovey dovey.”  Pleased, I smiled.
Zoe’s appreciation came out in the tone of her words. With peace in her voice, she snuggled close and asked, “Mom, did you make it all yourself?”
Then she said, “One girl said it doesn’t count because it came from your mom.”
“Well, I think it counts,”  I said.
Two weeks later I passed the lockers.  My hearts are still on Sum and Zo’s doors, as well as on the lockers of others, including the girl who said that a mom’s valentine
doesn’t count.
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5 thoughts on “Caught in an Act of Love by Emily

  1.   Em:  what you  did and wrote was  beautiful.  I know Zoe, Sumner and Tim are  proud of you.  Who else in the world would have done it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I  will keep a copy in all the pictures, letters      China file  I have.  Love to you.   Anita

  2. Em:  I think what you did for Valentines Day was super, super!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have gone back and read it several times.   I wanted to ask you about the coats for Z and S.  Would you like to have rain gear (jackets and pants ) or just jackets with the material you can wipe off – like ski jackets.  I wasn’t exactly sure what you meant.  I got their jackets at  that big (sort of  outlet) store at the mall.  They were like ski jackets – and then I would get each of them coats or jackets more dressy – like the black coat I got Zoe.  I am looking forward to shopping for them – I  mentioned this to Anne = she said she wish she had known about this because some store in Bozeman had just had a huge winter sale    but so much for that.  When I hear from you I can begin looking.  Love = Me

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