Today I ran some errands for Valentine’s Day. I had my (almost) five month old son in the back seat babbling to himself throughout the ride. As I was driving around I was reminded of what a blessing it was to have a healthy, handsome young baby boy riding around with me. Not just any baby boy, but MY baby boy. I couldn’t help but be a bit overwhelmed by my almost forgetting how much of a blessing he is. How could I already be taking him for granted? But there I was driving down the road realizing that I have indeed been taking Micah for granted.
I went out to pick up some cream and some mozzarella cheese for dinner tonight. I had told my wife that instead of going out tonight I would make her and myself dinner. I don’t usually cook. I can, but rarely feel inspired to. I have a simple to please palate and I usually am satisfied with macaroni and cheese or tuna salad if I cook. But Sarah does almost all the cooking, and she works hard at work all day so I thought it might be nice if I cooked us some dinner for once. I decided to make Chicken Parmesan. It ended up tasting quite nice, and it wasn’t too hard to make. (A key ingredient? Really nice olive oil from a friend that I fried the battered chicken in. YUM!)
I had ordered some flowers from a local flower shop. Well, three red carnations to be specific. I always feel kind of goofy buying three red carnations for Valentine’s Day. They are some of the cheapest flowers to buy. But it’s a tradition. When I was in high school our school offered a flower delivery service during lunch. You could choose from a various number of colors, with each color having a meaning attached to them. Purple meant simply “Happy Valentine’s Day,” yellow meant “friends,” while red meant “true love.” Numbers meant things too, increments of three being significant. At the time I had recently been flirting with a girl named Sarah. She was two years younger than I was. I was a Junior and she was a Freshman. I thought this might be a good opportunity to let her know I liked her. I bought her three red carnations and had them sent to her homeroom. I didn’t let her know they were from me, though. I wanted to keep her guessing. I wanted to see if she would guess they were from me.
This was back in the day when people used Xanga. This predates Facebook. I had been secretly stalking her Xanga and I’ll never forget her trying to figure out who had sent her the flowers.
Anyway, ever since that first Valentine’s Day in 2004 I have been sending her three red carnations every year without fail. Some years have been harder than others considering that we have been almost 1000 miles away at certain points of our relationship. But every year I have them delivered to her without her noticing where they came from. It’s basically our one tradition…and my attempt to be romantic. 🙂
Today I went to pick the three red carnations up from the local flower shop. I brought Micah in with me to pick them up. All the women in the shop were going crazy for Micah. Some pleaded for me to let him stay there at the store. A few gave me the typical “Oh, he’ll grow up before you know it” and “The next thing you know he’ll be in college.” I paid the $4.5o for the flowers (thank goodness it’s the thought that counts!) and left the store.
Sarah was as happy as ever.
As I was driving out of the parking lot I came to a crosswalk near our local Metra station. As I was sitting at the red light a little girl and her dad were crossing through the crosswalk. The little girl, probably about six, had a little rolling suitcase behind her. She skipped and hopped trailing a few feet behind her dad. She stopped and waived at me and said, “HI! Thank you for stopping. HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!” And then she continued on, skipping a bit faster to catch up with her dad. Her dad didn’t even look back, he just kept up at his focused pace, probably concerned about making the train on time.
But when she turned and waived to me I waived back, and couldn’t hold back the big grin that she got from me. What a cute little girl. What an innocent and carefree little girl. But as I thought about how happy she was I found my eyes welling up with tears. It surprised me. But I guess I was just so overcome with her innocence. She was genuinely happy and really wishing me a happy Valentine’s Day. She skipped like there wasn’t a thing wrong in her life, like there wasn’t a thing wrong in this world. I quickly was overcome with the the contrast of her genuine greeting and the cynicism I see in so many people these days, including myself. I was overcome by the thought that one day my sweet little boy will ask me why bad things happen in this world. He’ll be confused about the evil that exists in this world. And some day I’ll have to try and explain such things to that innocent little boy. The same thing goes for that little girl. Some day soon she’ll realize how many horrible realities there are out there in the “real world” and we adults will have to enlighten these young innocent hearts.
My eyes stung as I pulled away through the intersection listening to my son buzz his lips and babble to himself. Indeed, he’ll grow up before I know it. I roll my eyes at such statements because sometimes the days seem very long, and the nights even longer. Micah may cry a lot throughout a day, but he’s not crying because he is confused by this complex world. He’s only crying because he is tired, or hungry, or wants to be held. That’s it. And I must be thankful for these short days of innocence.