Kids can be mean. Really mean. Especially when egged on by peers. I know because of what I did to Billy M. in seventh grade. This Valentine's Day, share my story with your child and then ask her how she could have handled the situation better. Maybe it will prevent one more fragile heart from breaking.
It was Valentine's Day, and while opening my locker to find my math book, a box of chocolates fell out. There was an envelope attached to it with my name on it. A slow smile spread across my face. I'd never had a boy like me before. I was always the kind of girl that boys called up to ask about my pretty friend Jane or Katie. I would play Cupid and then promptly settle into my role as the permanent third wheel. A box of chocolates addressed to me on Valentine's Day was definitely a first.
So, I'm sitting in math class with my unopened card burning a hole in my pocket when Katie slips me a note. "Any valentines, yet?" Mostly because I'd never had the opportunity before, I took my card out of my pocket and waved it at her. Not surprisingly, her next note asked, "Who's the lucky guy?" Since the suspense was killing me anyway, I decided to open my card rather than wait until later in the privacy of the bathroom like I told myself I would. It read:
Hoppy Valentine's, Bunny. Hope you like the chocolates.
Billy M? Did I know a Billy M? Why couldn't it have been Paul or Alex or someone else in our group? Because Katie was staring at me eagerly awaiting my response, I passed Billy M's valentine over to her.
The Heartless Act
Later that day, Katie, Jane, Jessica, Paul, Alex, and I were sitting around the skating rink like we did every Friday after school. Of course, Katie brought up my valentine. I tried to brush it off, but of course, everyone wanted some candy. I silently handed over the box of chocolates to Paul.
"But, you're missing the best part," Katie giggled as she grabbed a chocolate. "Hoppy Valentine's Day, Bunny," she said as she hopped toward me with the chocolate balanced on top of her head.
Everyone started laughing. That's when I saw Billy M. staring at us. He promptly got on his bike and peddled away.
I've always felt bad about humiliating my first valentine like that, but I never did apologize. Years later, I found out that Paul had a crush on me until he saw how I treated my admirers. I also learned that Billy M. went on to become the CEO of a major corporation and the loving father of three. Now, whenever I'm rejected, I think of the earnest and good-hearted Billy M. and how he must have felt that day peddling away.
Questions to Ask Your Child
Would you have shared your valentine with Katie?
What would you have done when Katie brought up your valentine in front of the group?
Would you have said anything to Billy M.?
Has anything like this ever happened to you?