That is what I tweeted yesterday after I came home from my dreamy Valentine’s Day Date. No, my date wasn’t with The Husband. We’re not big on fake holidays around here, especially if they include romance. We don’t really do romance. My date was with The Middle One-precisely because he’s the middle one.
A few years ago, The Middle One was acting out for a few days and after the umpteenth meltdown, I realized all he really wanted was a little time to feel special. It seems that in spite of my best intentions to never let it happen, I had indeed fallen into The Green Kangaroo Trap.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Judy Blume book, The One in the MIddle is The Green Kangaroo, it’s about a boy who gets the big role in the play which is quite a departure for him as the oft neglected middle child. I love Judy Blume and I’ve always worried about being the mother of an oft neglected middle child so I refer to my boy as the Green Kangaroo, usually when I’m lamenting to The Husband how I don’t want my boy to feel like a Green Kangaroo.
But no matter how I try, sometimes he does feel like he’s lost in between his high-drama sister and his “spirited” little brother. Sometimes, he simply asks for time with me alone.
That year, the year of temper tantrums, we decided He would be my Valentine. Only Him. Every single Valentine’s Day.
The other kids have groaned about it in the past, and I’m sure someone out there thinks it’s a terrible idea to play favorites, but I think for the kids who is mostly lost in the shuffle, one day of being chosen isn’t nearly enough.
So this year, to avoid public (and familial) ridicule, we snuck out in the middle of the school day when no one was the wiser.
We went to lunch followed by a make your own yogurt place where he practiced more self control than I ever have in my life. He chatted about his life. I learned things about friends and school trips that I’ve never heard before. He had me all to himself and he took full advantage. I never looked at my phone. I never opened my mouth to speak except to ask what he wanted to eat. I stared at his beautiful face and took in every inch of him. And I listened, really listened to all he had to say. He’s a pretty amazing kid. I’m not sure I fully realized it before.
We held hands on our walk and I had a visceral reaction to the feeling of his hand in mind.
It was as if my heart immediately sensed that this was a moment to cherish because it wouldn’t last long-in a number of ways. In the immediate, there would be other things to steal my attention, namely two more kids and a house full of moving boxes. In the future, he’d get bigger and not want to talk so much. He’ll care less and less about what I think and more and more about steering clear of me.
Someday, he’ll have another Valentine. (That sound you hear is my heart, slowly breaking at the thought.)
For now, for today, I’m going to float through the hours on the feeling of that little hand in mine. I will cherish the sound of that enthusiastic little voice that had the floor to himself and I will be eternally grateful for the fact that my Green Kangaroo wants nothing more than to spend time with me.
P.S. Looking for more parenting guidance and tips for self-care? Check out From Chaos to Calm a guided training to help you feel better in this tough season.