I’ve always hated Valentine’s Day and have thought of it as a Hallmark holiday devised to make everyone feel bad—it reminds those not in relationships that they do not have the socially prescribed partner, and those in relationships suddenly have pressure to feel lovey-dovey and do something nice even it’s on a random Wednesday when either they have not a second of free time or they happen to be mad at their partner. And then the kids start school and perfectly normal grownups can find themselves stressing out over red construction-paper hearts… My grad school roommate and I regularly had anti-Valentine’s day parties complete with black lipstick and other grotesque things. However, the Charlottesville Rec. Department father-daughter dance every Valentine’s Day weekends is one of the cutest things on the planet. There’s nothing more adorable than a bunch of fathers and daughters walking around the downtown mall with little girls in fancy dresses and Dads in their finest, often inflected with their daughters tastes. Manuel was dressed this year in a pink shirt with delightful flower tie. Rebecca always works very hard on her outfit and took the opportunity to wear her flower girl dress from the summer. This is one of the most diverse and integrated events in Charlottesville. While we have, for sure, come a long way in Virginia, the bottom line is that most things my kids do—soccer, gynmastics classical music lessons, artsy summer camps, swim team, etc… still involve primarily affluent white kids. In contrast, the Rec Department dance, centrally located and virtually free, involves little girls and dads across class and race lines. And for this and the sheer adorableness of my husband and daughter walking down the street holding hands on the way to a dance, I love it and have had to reconsider my Valentine’s Day cynicism. I will, of course, be cursing madly by the time we finish the annual cram to make forty-six valentines with one kid who thinks each one should be a masterpiece and another who wants the whole business to end in 4 seconds or less.
While Manuel and Rebecca were living it up at the Dance, I was home with Jonathan and Eli. The older boy was still getting over the FLU, despite the FLU SHOT. The boys were in rare form. At some point he asked if scientific studies had shown that I was too old to have kids. My answer was that I didn’t want any more babies. The next question was, “so is that how you get a baby just by wanting one?” I was beginning to wonder where we were going with this. And given the various ways and stages at which people we know have built and are building their families, the business of age and how you get your kids is far from straightforward. Not to mention that when you have boy/girl twins who share a room and often are still physically connected enough that they forget where one’s body starts and the other’s ends, the whole business of “the talk” is loaded. It’s been a while since they sucked each others thumbs, toes etc… but still. Anyway, I said that yes wanting a baby is how it starts. He responded, “So you really wanted Eli?” I said, “Yes, of course we really wanted Eli.” As always, the kid then took it in a totally different direction than I was prepared for. “Are you sure you really wanted him? He’s turned out to be such a loud unruly thing…….” This is also the kid who said about me to my mother “you just can’t trust that woman”
For those friends and family members following the Gordon/Lerdau petri dish, we seem for the first time in six days to be relatively disease-free today, and everyone should go to school tomorrow. Jonathan’s flu was wretched for five days and involved a fever of 105. The Tamiflu made him puke so we got rid of that. So far the other kids haven’t gotten the flu though Rebecca did wake up with strep yesterday-a mere seven days after finishing her last antibiotic for strep. And maybe someone can explain to me why it’s so exhausting to stay home with a sick kid and to get puked on.