Forget the kids Valentine's Day has to be sexy

February 14, 1994|By SUSAN REIMER

My children have robbed me of sleep, a flat tummy and the freedom to go to the movies when I want. But they will never take Valentine's Day away from me.

This holiday is about candlelight, wine and roses. It is about gifts that come in small velvet boxes. It is about men and women and what goes on behind the bedroom door.

It is not about kids.

Kids don't get Valentine's Day. You can tell because all children care about is the candy that comes with it. You can tell because children screw up their faces and say stuff like, "Yuck, gross," when their parents share a tender moment over their valentines. You can tell because children try to hurt each other with valentines. That's why schools have rules that you have to bring one for everyone in the class.

Kids don't get Valentine's Day, and I am not going to explain it to them. Not yet, anyway. Not until they start asking about sex or just before they go away to college, whichever comes first. Because, let's face it, Valentine's Day is about sex.

It is not about sending cute little cards with puppies and kittens to your nieces and nephews. It is not about sending cards to teachers or grandparents or your baby-sitter. And it is not about sending a card to your mother saying that you finally appreciate her for all the things she has done for you. That's what Mother's Day is for.

Valentine's Day is about finding a hot card and sending it to your spouse or your lover and then waiting to see what happens.

Although the holiday is named for a Christian saint, it has less to do with him than it does with the fact that St. Valentine's Day coincided with a Roman festival celebrating the coupling of birds that usually began about now and heralded the coming of spring. According to some historians, young lovers would express their affection for each other in messages and gifts and then participate in wild orgiastic ceremonies. (Those Romans, they did so many things well.)

Anyway, no mention is made in history of buying 30 Michael Jordan or Barbie valentines for classmates. Or of buying Little Debbie valentine cakes for lunches.

Each Valentine's Day for a decade, my husband has chosen two for me from the children (they couldn't care less), and I have tried to act delighted and touched. But, truth be told, I don't want to hear about how much they love me for all the things I have done for them.

What I want to know is if my husband bought me a card with a gauzy picture of a bed with satin sheets on the cover. Or if he bought me one of those cards with a picture of a coffee cup and vase of flowers and an open window and some stuff inside about memories of our life together.

Valentine's Day is about love. It is about people in love. I know there are days when we barely qualify, but I don't want a valentine that apologizes for not saying "I love you" enough. Or one that thanks me for making our house a home. Or one that acknowledges the way I have dedicated my life to the children. Sorry, but no man ever had impure thoughts about a woman while she stood over the sink packing lunches.

At least we don't send humorous valentines to each other. Not yet, anyway. The kind that say, "Honey, I was going to give you the world on Valentine's Day. But then I discovered you'd already put it on one of our charge cards." When you start sending those kinds of valentines, it may be time to turn the holiday over the kids.

My husband and I ran away to Denver to marry on Valentine's weekend. And when we stepped out of the courthouse with our marriage license, I looked up, and high above, suspended on a giant crane over a blossoming skyscraper, was a huge, red heart. It took my breath away. I was sure it was a sign.

At least I thought it was a heart. Actually, my husband pointed out, that is not a heart. It is a special kind of pulley attached to the arm of the crane.

Now, on each Valentine's Day, I think back to that heart in the sky. I guess I'm the kind of person who always sees hearts in the sky. And as I open the valentines from my children, I kiss them and tell them that I love them, too.

Then I think about the guy I married who thought the heart in the sky was a piece of construction equipment. And I think that if my two little angels are ever going to understand the romance of Valentine's Day, it is going to be up to me to teach them.

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