She whispered, “I took you into my room.” Dad’s cell phone cracked a little. “Mom told me not to tell you but I am making you a Valentine’s Day card, too.”
Winter has never been good at secrets. Not that a Valentine’s card is any secret, we’ve been discussing them on our calls a few times now, but Friday night she was making one for our other sister while I helped her to decide what to draw on the inside so that it was so full, she had to write her message on the back.
“Ok, I’m going back out so you pretend you don’t know,” she advised solemnly, as if my mom couldn’t have guessed.
“Well,” I said louder than necessary (assuming I was on speaker), I’m really sad you are only making a card for Katie, but I suppose since she’s your favorite sister, I can understand.”
She giggled. I live for that giggle some days — there is no way to not smile and feel like everything is right in the world when you hear it. It is that special. “Yup, that’s just how it is,” she said loudly before whispering, “you are my favorite sister.”
My heart melted. We don’t have favorites — truly we are all each others favorites in ways that are as unique as each of us are. But still, I have to admit, I was feeling down on Friday, and the words helped.
Winter is in first grade and they had their Valentine party that day. She told me she gave everyone in the class heart-shaped slime, in a heart shaped bottle. Very appropriate, I thought to myself before asking what her #1 boyfriend (she has three from what I can tell) got her. “Oh, he got me an eyeball ring,” before she told me that she pretty much got candy from the rest of the class. It’s first grade after all and they all give the same thing to each other, but I had to wonder — is it possible she found a soul mate already? I mean he’s been her boyfriend for years now. I think I am beginning to know why.
She then asked me what Joey and I were doing for Valentine’s day. I thought ahead to Monday. “Well,” I said, “I’m working all day, and then when I get done with work, Joey has to go to work.” She was upset by the answer, yelling NO at me before explaining we needed to spend time together.
Kid, I thought, you have no idea. With our schedules, Joey and I had barely seen each other for more than a few minutes since Wednesday.
I explained that we would be spending Saturday doing all kinds of things and asked her why they didn’t have the Valentine’s party on Valentine’s day. She explained that they had Monday off, and sharply noted that it was because you are supposed to spend time with your family and friends on Valentine’s day and not working.
The subject soon changed and we somehow started talking about age. I’m 40 years older than she. Almost the same age as her biological grandmother, I’m told. Even Katie, closest in age of us all, is about 15 years older than her, and I had to wonder how what she thinks about all that. Or if she does. It’s certainly a unique family structure for her when other kids in school probably talk about their siblings. I know for me, when I say I have a 7 year old sister people look at me oddly, asking for an explanation without words. Then again, kids are much more accepting of things sometimes. In their world, it’s just how it is. In time, questions will come.
One thing is clear though — despite a lack of biological connection, our Valentine gifts to others are strangely similar. While I didn’t get Joey slime, I did get him a Lewis Black Anger button that when pressed delivers some of Black’s finest profanity laden terms of anger. It’s brilliant. I played a few for Winter — who giggled again mercilessly. (I’ll note here she’s already warned me about swearing and if I don’t quit, I will go to very not nice place and she’d prefer I go to heaven with her.)
Yeah, I’m going to hell… even if I don’t believe in it. Happy V-day, folks.