Kina has not really understood Valentine’s Day before. When prompted to reflect on past Valentine’s Days, she offered that those were the days on which her nanny Hannah gave her two of her favorite stuffed animals—both of which are holding puffy little hearts. She doesn’t have a particularly sophisticated outlook on love, has never had a crush on anybody, and hasn’t really experienced the strange ritual of in-school card exchanges. There has traditionally been nothing to grasp onto, and so the day is principally about stuffies.
She has a slightly more focused perception this year of what the day is meant to be, in that she now realizes that Valentine’s Day is about chocolate (true) and nice flowers (sometimes) and drawing nice pictures for your friends (optimally). Unfortunately, this is all unfolding in a year in which friends are literally few and far between. She got a little heart-shaped pen and a card from her friend Sloane, and Hannah gave her a bag of snacks (which was extremely well-received), but school is still on Zoom and our celebrations of love are largely confined to quarters. We talk sometimes about the kinds of treats that her friends might like, and whether they might appreciate a little drawing of themselves—which we then produce, writing their names in chaotic jumbles with the little heart-shaped pen. We will convey these cards to their intended recipients, but it will not be as huggy as a four-year-old Valentine’s Day should be. We do our best to sustain.
Kina’s notion of love is broad and permissive. It does not take much for a child this young to express her love. That expression has a very low cost and an extremely high return, people are generally very nice to kids, and children hold fewer grudges and biases. I sometimes think about how the scope of your friendships changes as you grow—as your love for those who are close to you intensifies as your fondness for those who are more distant diminishes. In my twenties, I could be friends with almost anyone. Today, the bar is high. What happened to me? I want to be as expansive with my love as Kina is, but my trust in the world is just more fragile than hers. I can’t remember the last time I sent a Valentine to anybody other than Laurea, but I have a bunch of unicorn-themed cards that Kina will be scrawling her name in. I could steal a few; maybe it would feel good.
Kina had a good Valentine’s Day—she told us herself as she drifted off to sleep. She loves us both very much, but she’s cast her net quite wide. She might love you, too.
Today’s Parade is a stack of hearts resting on a strawberry. Kina did a little glue and confetti, but this is mostly another Laurea-driven project. She seems to be enjoying making them, and I have no objection.