Ah, memories. I remember Valentine’s Day back in the 4th grade. It was the first year that we didn’t have to send a Valentine to everyone in the class. I didn’t want to send any at all. But my mom bought me the cards and told me to “do it”. So I did, but not willingly.
Before I go any further maybe I should explain what life was like for
this Valentine’s Day, instead of moaning about lost love or complaining about the ex that hurt you, forgive someone… even if they don’t deserve it me in those early times. By the third grade I was the only kid in the class to have an acne problem, let only a single pimple. I was the tallest girl in the class and I was one of a small handful of kids in the entire school to have breasts.
Needless to say, most people recognize what a burden it can be on a child to be different from everyone else. It didn’t help my case that I was smart either. I was teased relentlessly. The only good friends I had were either from my old school or family. I hated those years. I would fight with the boys and was alienated from the girls. I was continually in and out of the principal’s office and even got “The Strap” once or twice. But I wasn’t a bad kid! I volunteered during lunch hours answering the phones for the secretary. I was a patrol (crossing guard) during grades 5 and 6. I had great marks and even won awards for them.
I remember one day particularly well. It was morning recess and a couple of boys starting fighting right outside the doors of the school. I was trying to tell them to stop because the teacher was on her way outside and I got between them. Well, one of them accidentally hit me and that was it. I jumped right in. I was wearing a pair of big, red earrings that my mom let me wear. The three of us managed to get a few shots in before the teacher came, but not before one of the boys managed to rip my earring straight through to the bottom of my earlobe. I didn’t even notice the pain, I was just furious that mom’s earring might be damaged and afraid that she’d ground me. I wanted to tear into that kid right there. After the teacher broke us up I was the only one that wouldn’t stop fighting. I ended up being detained in the Principal’s office for most of the morning and the two boys got to go back to class. The kid that ripped my ear lobe ended up going back and found the backing of the earring for me at lunchtime. I almost felt bad for being so mad at him. Another time one of the kids said something mean to me, I don’t even remember what it was anymore. What I do remember is crying so hard and feeling so hurt and so alone that I went straight to the office and asked to call my mom. The secretary kept asking me what was wrong and I finally told her “I hurt” while pointing to my chest. I laugh about it now because I was so young that I didn’t realize how she would respond to that. She called the principal and almost called an ambulance. And when they finally called my mom they told her they though I was having some kind of medical problem. I told her what happened and she laughed. I didn’t understand why she laughed. I just felt even more hurt that my own mother laughed at me when I felt so bad.
The point is, that no matter what my intentions were or what I did I always had a hard time of it in school. And when that fateful Valentine’s Day rolled around I was in no mood to be kind.
I had all those Valentines to be handed out and not a single person that I wanted to hand them out to. So I did what any jaded and vindictive 4th grader would do. For each and every person in my class that had ever teased or insulted me I wrote a special message on his or her card. For one boy I made fun of his hand that had only three fingers (he had been born that way). For another I wrote that he was a stupid idiot with trash for a mother. I told one girl that she was fat and shouldn’t eat any candy hearts that year. Simply put, I thought of any hurtful thing I could and wrote them down on every little cartoon card I had. I dropped all those little envelopes in the big construction paper hearts that we all made in art class and sat down to watch everyone open them up.
And you know what, I don’t think anyone got hurt that day more than I did. I felt better about myself for all of three seconds. And then I saw their faces as one by one they read their Valentines. Most were just really mad at me, and at first I tried not to care. But then one boy cried. The one boy that I thought was the meanest and toughest guy in the school. And I felt horrible. And by now I can bet that most of them have forgotten all about my horrible Valentines. But not me. To this day I feel guilty about those horrible cards and the nasty, selfish thing that I did.
The punishments from my parents (oh yes, the school called my parents about it!) and the principal were easy to take compared to how it felt to apologize to my whole class. I don’t think that school ever saw another little girl that was so sorry for what she had done. Time went on and I grew up. I finally figured out that that little boy never meant to hit me or rip my ear. And I finally understood why my mom laughed at me. And that fateful day (in combination with growing up) taught me a lesson. Revenge isn’t nearly as sweet in deed as it is in thought. And forgiveness is hardest gift of all to give.
So this Valentine’s Day, instead of moaning about lost love or complaining about the ex that hurt you, forgive someone. Even if they never know they’ve been forgiven, even if they don’t deserve it, or even if it’s yourself. At least there will be some peace in your heart.