Kindergarten Valentine’s Day

Brittany JordanI work with kids, and have never loved any job as much as this one. It is stressful and tiring, but it keeps me on my toes; one day is never like the other. My favorites are the kindergarteners, who make me feel like a superstar just by walking in the door.

But the more I see these kids, spend time with them, and the more I am up here at this university, the more I realize that while we label ourselves as adults, we’re really just big kids.

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The striking similarities occur when adults get angry, and when adults decide they are in love.  We point our fingers at the youngsters, rolling our eyes at the temper tantrums that they throw in the middle of the grocery store, muttering words like “brat” and “indulgent parenting.” However, I was in class the other day when some guy decided to throw his notebook at the wall shouting obscenities. Over what, I don’t know, but it seemed like a temper tantrum to me.

And girls, we haven’t come very far ourselves. We bicker and fight over what so-and-so told so-and-so, and vow that we will “never speak to her again.” But then we smile and nod when that same girl tells us that “we really should catch up sometime.”

We have our best friends and our enemies. Remember when we were five, and you’d be best friends in the morning, be fighting by lunch, and be best friends again by the time school let out?  While it may not be exactly the same, our acquaintanceships seem to have the same up-and-down style.

So I have to wonder, when it comes to dating, are we really just grown up kids?

As a childcare teacher, I have performed countless weddings in which the bride and groom exchange vows such as, “I promise to always share my Oreo cookies with you,” and “I promise that I will always give you my swing.”

People think it’s cute and then brush it off, because apparently five-year-olds know nothing about love, right? However, I’d challenge that we do not know much about love ourselves.

For those of you that are in loving and committed relationships, congratulations. Relationships are hard, and get harder as time passes. If you have found a way to make it work, good for you.

I am on the other side of the coin. In the aftermath of a break-up, I have turned back to those same five-year-olds for advice. Because, really, I just want someone to share his Oreos and swing with me.

Young love is so much easier without this adult nonsense. Before things like sex and jealousy get in the way, we got “married” because we liked the other person. These kids say that they love everything and everyone, and I really think that they do.

So when was it that our love got conditional? When did we start saying “I will love you until this happens,” or “I will love you as long as you do this for me?” Even worse: “I will love you until I find someone else?” When did we start wondering if our significant other loved us, instead of assuming that this was the case?

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With Valentine’s Day around the corner, love is on everyone’s mind. Everything is pink and red and heart-shaped; chocolate and flower sales are at an all-time high. But remember when we were kids and just had to write on a little valentine with a Dum-Dum attached to it?

Wasn’t that much easier than deciding what kind of extravagant gift we can give, as if that is the measure of how much we love another person?

A couple months ago, a first grade boy flew me a paper airplane with “open me” written on the side. When I spread it out, it read, “you luk pritee.” The beauty of it is that spelling can be taught, but the romantic gesture cannot.

This Valentine’s Day, go back to when you were young and in love. Remember that in a lot of ways, we really haven’t grown up all that much. Let your inner kid out to play, and you might be surprised at how much easier life gets.

And, most of all, get advice from some of the wisest people around: kids.