Third grade Valentine’s Day lessons

My best Valentine’s Day memories are not romantic. In fact, my fondest memory was the result of a lot of puke. In third grade, I woke up with the flu on Valentine’s Day. I tried to get ready for school anyway, determined to pass out the valentines I painstakingly crafted the night before, but I vomit-blasted the hallway with such ferocity that I quickly retreated back to bed. All day, I lay in bed, brokenhearted and feverish, with only an empty bucket to console me. (Okay, I’m pretty sure my mom was around too, but we remember what we feel, even if it is a little dramatic.) My valentine mailbox, a shoebox covered in construction paper, sat empty on my dresser.

That day I learned:

  • How to control vomit
  • Sometimes illness forces you to stay home, no matter what day it is
  • Valentine’s Day sucks when you’re all alone

Then, at 3:30, the doorbell rang. I heard my mom invite the visitor inside. A few seconds later, my bedroom door opened. My third grade teacher entered the room.

“AHHHHH, she in my house!” I thought, sitting in my pajamas, but feeling completely naked. “She is breaking the rules! How did she find me?”

“I brought you this,” she said, handing me a shoebox covered with red and pink hearts. “I hope you feel better soon.”

After she left and I recovered from the realization that teachers can leave school, I opened the box. Inside were 22 handcrafted valentines from my classmates, and one from my teacher.

I wish you a healthy Valentine’s Day, full of thoughtful surprises. And if that’s not possible, please don’t wait for your third grade teacher to show up at your door. Sometimes self-care is the best valentine of all.

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