So, I asked my 11 year old son what he thought about Valentine’s Day.
“I don’t have a girlfriend or anything like that, so I don’t really think about it,” he replied, completely uninterested in the conversation.
Aaaand of course, I pressed the issue.
“Well, what if you did have a girlfriend? What would you do for her for Valentine’s Day?” I asked.
“I would buy her chocolates…because it’s one thing that mankind can really get excited about,” he wisely told me.
Ah, the romantic ideals of an 11 year old boy.
“But what if you were interested in a girl, what types of things would you do to get her interested in you?” I asked.
Counting off on his fingers, he shared his strategy for winning over a potential mate:
1. Be really kind, smile at her, and say hi.
2. Talk about things that she is interested in.
3. Don’t brag because nobody likes that.
4. Bring donuts or other food that she likes and offer to share with her.
5. Pick a flower and give it to her.
6. Offer to carry her bag and stuff.
I asked where he got these ideas – from books? TV? Movies?
“I got them from my own personal mind. I came up with my own ideas on how you should treat people,” he told me (clearly getting annoyed with all my invasive and personal questions).
Then he went into his room to shoot baskets into his Nerf basketball hoop. End of discussion.
But those ideas about relationships from his “own personal mind” came from somewhere; it’s not as though he spends a lot of time pondering how to attract a mate. Like most children, he’s influenced by the relationship that he sees most often – his parents. While our relationship is not perfect by any stretch, I can clearly see all six of my son’s “winning strategies” reflected in my own marriage.
1. First, my husband is, above all, kind. Even when we’re on each other’s last nerve, we still manage to be respectful and nice (even if it does sometimes lend itself to passive aggressiveness).
2. We are genuinely interested in each other’s work and inner lives – for the most part. He’s not particularly interested in my Pinterest boards, and frankly, I’m not that into some of the strategic “Civilization” type computer games that he enjoys…but vive la difference!
3. Ego often has to take a backseat in a relationship. You sometimes have to put your personal desires aside and take one for the team.
4 & 5. We don’t go overboard on big gifts for each other, but a bunch of supermarket flowers , a black and white cookie from the bakery, or a bottle of wine on a Friday night are often the little things that demonstrate thoughtfulness and make a big difference.
7. He carries my bags…of groceries from the car to the house, the basket of laundry upstairs and puts it away.
So this is a Valentine that I’m sending to both my son and my husband. Our relationship is not perfect, it never was, never will be – but it is pretty good 99% of the time. I think we’re setting a realistic example of a loving, equal relationship for our kid. And that’s one of the best gifts I think that we can give him with the hope that in the future, he can find a loving partner of his own.
But the kid’s got a point…chocolate is good too.