The little boy was working intently while sitting on the floor. He was concentrating so hard that his tongue was stuck out the side of his mouth. He had some red construction paper that was cut into shapes close to what could be considered hearts. He held up a heart in one hand, with the blunt plastic scissors in the other, and smiled at his accomplishment.
Next he took a sheet of red construction paper and folded it in half then folded it again. Holding the folded paper, he opened it and closed it smiling to himself. He then picked up a crayon and drew as good a heart as he could, filling the entire fourth of the folded paper. Inside the heart, the boy used another color crayon and carefully printed “Mom” in the center of the heart. He opened what now resembled a card and printed carefully, “Happy Valintine Day.”
He stared at the words for a long time, then shrugged his shoulders and below the words, he printed, “Steve.” He picked up one of the cutout hearts and slid it into the now closed homemade card.
Still concentrating, he folded another piece of red construction paper and again used a crayon to draw a large heart. In the middle of the heart he used a different color crayon to print, “Suz.” You could see his happiness as he giggled at the nickname he used for his sister.
He opened the card and wrote “Happy Valintine Day” again. He kept thinking that Valintine didn’t look right but it was already written, twice, so it would have to do. He picked up another cutout heart and slid it in the homemade card and patted it as if to say, “Done.”
Very carefully the little boy began writing on the other cutout hearts. In small letters, he used the crayons to write, “Be Mine,” “My Valintine,” and the other words that were found on that sweet candy that is shaped like hearts and is so good. Thinking he was being very smart, he took pieces of the candy, used some glue from his sticky bottle, and glued a piece of candy to each of the paper hearts.
When he was done, the little boy nodded to himself and said, “That’s enough for the neighbor girls.”
He picked up all of the clippings and put them into the wastebasket. Next, he put his scissors, glue, and crayons into the cigar box he kept them in. He looked around and decided he was done and took the box and newly made cards to his room.
He didn’t see his mother smiling as she observed her son carrying his treasures back to his room.
On the kitchen table, an older girl was writing in some store bought cards. She said to her mother, “I wish I could get something for Henry, but he’s so far away we couldn’t get it to him. I’m glad we mailed him a card. Stevie used that crayon to write his name on it so large that there almost wasn’t room to say hi.
The mother said, “Steve just enjoys knowing he’s sending his big brother something. Do you know he keeps one of Henry’s books from last semester on his nightstand? He says he’s trying to read it so he can go to college too. Steve actually sits in his chair and tries to sound out the words.”
The girl said, “Mom, he’s not even five, he can’t read.”
The mother said, “Susan, I’ve helped him sound out words since before he was two and he can easily read the children books for first graders. He has even read to me from “Life” magazine. He gets the Sears catalogue out and reads about the tools that he would like to have. He is way ahead at reading.”
Susie rolled her eyes, but kept on filling out the cards she was addressing to her close friends. She said, “Thank you for getting me these cards. I can give them out at school tomorrow.”
The mother continued to make the cake she had been working on. She took the two large rectangular sheet cakes, ladled vanilla icing on top of one, then placed the other cake on top. She very carefully cut one end into a rounded point. She carefully cut the other end with two rounded mounds that she thought resembled breasts, but made the cake now look like a heart. After arranging the cake on a serving plate, she spread icing over the whole cake.
She brought out a jar of those little candy red hots in the shape of hearts, turned to her daughter, and asked, “Want to help decorate the cake?”
Susie jumped up and stood at the counter where the cake was. She popped a candy into her mouth and said, “I’ll bet Stevie would like to help. Can I call him?”
“He’s going to make a mess,” the mother cautioned.
“Aw, Mom, he’ll love to help.”
“Go get him. I saw him go upstairs.”
Susie went to the bottom of the stairway and yelled, “Stevie, come down and help decorate the cake. We’re putting little red hots on it.” Susie turned away and headed back to the kitchen.
The sound of running feet was heard, then their clatter coming down the stairs. The mother held her breath until the little boy came running into the kitchen, smiling. He pulled one of the wooden chairs from the table and put it by the counter and stood on it next to his sister. While he looked at the heart-shaped cake with big wide eyes, his sister popped a candy into his mouth. His grin told her he liked the treat.
The mother said, “First let’s put a couple of rows of the hearts all around the edge. That will make the heart look real good.”
The little boy pushed the candies into the icing a little too hard, but he was trying to be careful. He was concentrating so hard that his tongue was stuck out the side of his mouth again. Susie was putting a candy in her mouth, then putting one into Steve’s mouth, about every other one she handled.
When that was done, the mother said, “Okay, we should put something in the middle. What should we put there?”
Steve said, “How about a big cherry.”
“We could do that, but we could use the candy to make a word or words. What could we write? It can’t be big, but it should be something nice.” The three suggested a lot of phrases but they were too long.
Steve was deep in thought and said to his sister and mother, “Can we just write “Love.” That’s what Valentine’s Day is all about, isn’t it?”
The mother looked at the little boy, with a little water around the edges of her eyes, and said, “Yes, Steve, that’s what it’s all about.”
Susie hugged the little boy and said, “Good idea, Steve, do you know how to spell it?”
“That’s easy, Suz, it’s just L O V E.”
Susie smiled and said, “You’re right. I guess you do know your words pretty good.”
The mother poured some red hots out onto a saucer and said, “Let’s make the letters fit just right. When that’s done, we’ll get some cherries.”
Soon the cake had a red hot LOVE printed across it.
The mother had a small bowl with some warm soft chocolate. She picked up a cherry by the stem, dipped it into the chocolate, then placed it on one side of the humps of the heart. She repeated the process and placed another on the other hump. She blushed a little as the humps now really looked like breasts with nipples. One more dipped cherry was placed on the bottom of the heart. She said, “All done. I’ll put the cover over it so we can surprise your dad.”
Susie said, “Today isn’t Valentine’s day. We have to save it for tomorrow.”
Still standing on the chair, Steve said, “Dad has to be gone tomorrow and tomorrow night. We have to eat the cake tonight so he gets a Valentine.”
The mother said, “I’m sure it will be a good idea to have the cake tonight. There’ll still be some for tomorrow night.”
While looking at the pieces of cut off cake, the bowl of icing, and the red hots, Steve asked, “Can I make some little cakes. I want to put icing on the pieces and put red hots on them. We’ll have some small Valentine cakes.”
Susie rolled her eyes while she was rinsing off her hands, but her mother said, “That’s a good idea, Steve. Let me get another plate so you can put the pieces on it.”
The mother gave Steve a plate and very carefully placed the pieces of cut off cake on the plate. The pieces were big enough that they stayed together in the two layer configuration that had been cut off. When he had them arranged, he used the table knife his mother had used and gently put a very thick layer of icing on top and on the sides. There almost wasn’t enough to go around, but Steve was able to cover the two fairly big pieces and three smaller pieces. The knife was now completely covered with icing, as were Steve’s fingers and hands.
Steve set the knife down and looked at his fingers. He couldn’t decide what to do with his icing covered hands. His mother said, “Lick them off, it’ll taste good.” She picked up the knife and licked the knife clean, enjoying the sweet icing.
When Steve was done, he looked over at the table and said, “Suz, come get some icing on your fingers so you can lick them off.”
Susie looked up and said, “Mom won’t like that.”
The mother said, “Oh, come on, the icing is all but gone. Come get some and lick it up.”
While Susie was licking some icing from her fingers, Steve began to line the edges of his little cakes with red hots. When he was done, he pointed at the cherries and asked, “Can you put some chocolate cherries on these cakes too?”
With a smile, the mother dipped cherries in the warm chocolate and placed them on the five pieces. When she was done, Steve was grinning. He pointed at the two big pieces of cake and said, “See, one for mom, one for dad, then pointing at the smaller pieces he said, “One for Susie, one for Henry, and one for me. These will be for tomorrow or whenever dad and Henry can have it.”
The mother said, “I’ll cover these up too so we’ll have them tomorrow.”
That evening, the mother told the father all about the cake episode and how she had spied on Steve making valentines. While they were washing and putting the dishes away, the father said, “Wait just a second.”
He left the kitchen and came back with his hands behind his back. He kissed the expectant mother on the nose, then brought out a card and a red heart shaped box of candy. He said, “Happy Valentine’s Day. I won’t be here tomorrow night, so I’m giving this to you now.”
The mother gave the father a very warm kiss and said, “Happy Valentine’s Day tomorrow, Husband.” She opened a kitchen drawer and brought out a card and handed it to him. They both read their cards and smiled.
The mother said, “Let me show you the cake we made for our dessert.” She lifted the cover from the big cake and pointed to the two mounds of the heart with the chocolate dipped cherries on them. She said with some pink to her face, “Think about what those look like and if you might want to nibble on them later.”
The husband hugged the wife and said, “You can bet on it. Since I’ll be gone tomorrow night, I want some Valentine lovin’ tonight.”
“Careful, Honey, or we’ll be getting too early a start. Let me get the kids so they can have their dessert. Pour some glasses of milk and sit. I’ll be right back.”
The mother went upstairs to get her two children. Susie was working on homework at her desk. Steve was in his chair, Henry’s book in his lap, with his finger under a word, working his mouth. As soon as the mother said, “Cake for dessert,” Steve was running for the stairs.
The mother and sister watched Steve fly down the stairs dangerously but land safely. They followed more sedately to find Steve already sitting in his chair.
Steve asked, “We’ll have the regular cake tonight but, Dad, you have to have the piece of cake I made for you tonight too. Can you take Henry his piece of cake tomorrow? You said you would be going near his college.”
The father said, “I’ll do that. I’ll take your piece and another piece from the big cake. He’ll eat it tomorrow when you eat yours. I’ll take my piece and eat it with Henry.”
Susie rolled her eyes but was smiling, as was Steve, knowing that his big brother would get the piece of cake he made for him.
After supper, Steve was told to take his bath and Susie was told to take hers when Steve had finished. The couple this time washed the dessert dishes, while their children took their baths to get ready for bed. They knew Susie would stay up later, doing homework or reading, but Steve would probably go to sleep early. He was a very early riser in the morning. You could always depend on meeting him when you woke in the morning.
That night, there were loving sounds from the big downstairs bedroom. The sounds didn’t really reach upstairs, but they had a calming effect on the children as they slept peacefully, secure in their parents love.
The morning was brisk. February up north usually had snow, but the ground was bare this year. The father was happy, although he had a long drive today in order to work on some equipment for his employer. He was looking forward to seeing his oldest son when he drove through the town where the university was located.
Steve was always up first in the morning. His mother had taught him how to fill the coffeepot with water then how much coffee to put into the metal basket. Using a chair to stand on, Steve filled the pot with water, then put the basket without the lid into the pot. Next, he pulled the big canister over, and with the neat little dipper, he measured out four dippers full of coffee into the basket. He very carefully put the lid on the basket, then the top on the pot that had the little glass cap the coffee bubbled up into.
He had to be careful, as the pot was heavy with water now. He placed the pot on the stove over the front burner, and carefully turned on the flame. He felt very important, as this was the only time he was allowed to turn on the flame. He adjusted the flame to be just under the pot then put his chair back at the table.
Steve greeted his dad when he came from his bedroom. Steve handed him a heart and said, “Happy Valentine’s Day, Dad.” The father gave Steve a big hug.
The mother came from the bedroom into the kitchen and Steve said, “Happy Valentine’s Day, Mom, here’s your card.” Steve got a great big hug and kiss from his mom.
The mother looked at the card with “Mom” on the front. She opened it to see “Happy Valintine Day.” She didn’t say anything about the misspelled word and shared the card with the father. He smiled and said, “That’s better than the card I gave your mother, Son.” The couple hugged each other and shared one of those perfect parent kisses, the kind that makes even their little boys smile.
Steve said, “And I made it myself.”
He was standing by his sister’s chair at the table, patiently waiting for her to come into the kitchen. When she came to the table, Steve handed her the card and said, “Happy Valentine’s Day, Suz.”
Susie smiled at the “SUZ” on the front of the card and grinned even bigger at the misspelled word. She hugged her little brother and said, “Thank you, Steve, happy Valentine’s Day.”
Susie got up and went to her book bag and brought back some envelopes. She handed one to Steve, a larger one to her mom, and another to her dad. She still held a smaller one. The parents read the card and gave their daughter a hug and kiss as a thank you.
Susan asked, “Since you’re going by Henry’s today, can you give him this card. We mailed him one, but this one is from me.”
The father said, “Sure, I’ll be glad to.”
Steve ran from the room. You could hear him running up the stairs then shortly afterward, the noise from his reckless descent. He handed his dad a heart and said, “That’s Henry’s, it has his name on it.”
The family had breakfast and the father soon left for his overnight trip. Susie left to walk to her high school. The mother began cleaning up the table, with Steve standing on his chair next to his mother with a dishtowel in his hand.
As the mother finished washing a plate or glass, Steve would dry it carefully and put it on the counter. When everything was complete and the chair was back at the table, Steve said, “There is only one more thing I have to do for Valentine’s Day.”
“What’s that, Steve?” the mother asked.
“I have to give these hearts to Joannie, Barbara, Sandy, and Julie. Will you walk me to their houses?”
The mother said, “Let’s get our coats and get it done.”
They put on heavy coats and hats, and when they walked out of the house, Steve said, “Let’s go Barbara’s first. It’s the farthest away.”
Steve and his mother walked the long block to Barbara’s house, and after knocking, Barbara’s mother opened the door. When she looked at Steve and his mother, Steve’s mother pointed at Steve. He said, “I have a valentine for Barbara.”
The two entered the house and Barbara came running. When Steve gave the card to Barbara, she smiled and immediately began trying to pull the piece of candy off. She never said a word to Steve, but he was happy as she obviously liked the card.
The next two stops were the same, Sandy and Julie liked their cards and were trying to get the candy off the card before Steve and his mother left.
When they came to the house next door to theirs, Steve said, “I saved the best for last. I like Joannie a lot. I gave her a candy that says ‘I love you.'”
The mother didn’t laugh, but she did have a choking fit. Soon they were in the living room of Joannie’s house. Joannie’s mother thought it very cute the way the two looked at each other. Joannie said, “I have a valentine for you, Stevie.” As soon as she said that, she ran from the room and came back with a piece of red construction paper cut out into a heart. Joannie handed the heart to Steve and said, “Happy Valentine’s Day, Stevie.”
Steve handed Joannie the card he had made for her and greeted her the same way. Joannie’s eyes became big as she stared at the card. She looked up at her mother and said, “He gave me a candy, Steve gave me candy like daddy gave you. He likes me, Mommy.”
Joannie’s mother rolled her eyes and looked at Steve’s mother. Steve’s mother said, “I guess we’ll have to watch them closely as they grow up.”
Joannie’s mother said, “Steve is so good, so respectful, I doubt he’ll be a problem. This one is going to be the problem. By that time, Steve won’t have a chance.”
Joan and Steve were standing next to each other, smiling. Steve’s mother asked, “Are we done now? Should we go home?”
Steve said, “One more thing, Mom.”
Steve leaned over and kissed Joan on the cheek and said, “Be my Valentine!”
Joannie grinned real big, then kissed Steve right on the mouth. While Steve sputtered and wiped his mouth, Joan said, “I’ll be your Valentine.”
As the two parted, they loudly said at the same time, “Happy Valentine’s Day.”