Last week, a very sad-faced fifth grade girl came to me with this very sad-faced question: "Do we have to do PE on Valentine's Day?"
It took me a moment to appreciate that this girl, who had not shown a great proclivity for math previous to this, had made the calculation that probably involved looking at a calendar to determine that Thursdays are PE days and Valentine's Day is on the fourteenth. She might have been aided by the cartoon heart filling the square next to the number fourteen. Nonetheless, I appreciated the effort, but gave her the simple answer: "Yes."
Big sigh. Slumped shoulders. Off she sulked. It was only later that I tried to remember what it was like to be ten or eleven years old around this time of year. I dutifully inscribed the names of each of my classmates on the tiny Valentine cards my mother had bought for me. I hoped that I would receive at least as many back as I gave out. Maybe someone would pass out those big red cinnamon heart suckers taped to their cards. There might even be chocolate.
And somewhere in the back of my mind, even back in elementary school, was the hope that someone would give me a non-required Valentine. A girl. Maybe from another class. Someone who had been watching me from afar. Someone who wanted to B Mine 4 Ever. That didn't happen, even though I made that wish for another ten years. Now I'm not surprised to find a mushy note on the inside of a grown-up sized card. From my wife. Wait. Maybe I am surprised. Or at least the ten-year-old me is. How did this all work out? I've got a girl to notice me. She even gives me chocolate. Sometimes. On Valentine's Day.
Maybe that's why we have PE on Valentine's Day. All that chocolate.