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The True Gift

By Dr. Stacy Howard, the Florida Children’s Council.

As I dropped my oldest son off at preschool this morning, I was profoundly touched by his recent fascination and excitement for, in his words, “Valentime’s Day.” I remember this time last year that I had an almost three-year-old who seemed mostly fascinated with the candy side of his school’s celebration and not much else. I was reminded of just how fast 12 months can go, and how my now almost four-year-old is filled to the brim with questions about this day of love.

As I watched the busy environment of his school, I was keyed into the countless loving and tender moments being shared within this one small space. Tender hugs from dads stealing one more before leaving for work, tender words from teachers redirecting children too full of curiosity to guide their own hands, and tender touches from child to child who were clearly learning the value of being kind to one another.

Valentine’s Day is one of the country’s largest consumer holidays with shelves stocked with candy, cards, flowers, and an array of “snugglers” (again, in my son’s words) in shades of pink, red and white. Although fun to indulge in a guilty pleasure of spoiling our loved ones on this day, and in turn, being spoiled, I am reminded of the true gifts. The gift of watching a young child’s mind blossom. The honor of being both an observer and contributor to an ever expanding imagination. The peace of mind knowing he is in the care of tender professionals each day that play such an integral part in his journey of learning.

I leave you with an excerpt from the book my son took to school with him….

The Very Special Valentine, by Maggie Keen

“I’ve searched in every corner, but no present can I find,” cries bunny gray, with great dismay.  Says Rosie, “never mind! The gift of love within your heart is by far the sweetest kind.”

Happy Valentime’s Day!