"HEY BABE. PICK ME. FOR EVER."
With Valentine's Day just past, I am reminded once again why I get such a kick out of it in spite of its frivolous, largely commerical nature. It is because of "Sweethearts" conversation hearts.
Who can resist these tiny, colorful morsels of sweetness? Certainly not me. But I love them not so much for their various fruit flavors as for the little sayings they sport in red capital letters. I marvel at the imagination it takes to come up with new two-line messages some machine can print on tiny candies with less surface area than a half square inch.
To my delight, Sooby, Pooh, and Bootsie share my affinity for these magical little specimens of verbiage. So for a recent day trip to visit them, I took along three boxes of Sweethearts and waited until my last half hour or so with them to break them out. In this way, I could leave any less desirable effects wrought by excess sugar to be enjoyed by their parents while I was innocently negotiating the three-hour drive home.
In order to be able to savor the experience a little longer, I made them hand me each heart before they ate it so that I could read what it said. About mid-box, I said to Sooby, "Just think--next year you'll be in kindergarten and you will probably be able to read these yourself." I could see her contemplating this as a sticky forefinger dove in to retrieve her next bite. Intently, she studied an orange heart, and then announced, "This one says, "GO GO GO." She caught me off-guard with this. I was even more surprised to see that she was right.
To my knowledge, this was Sooby's first time to actually read something. Since then, her mama says she has been reading other things too. It thrills me to see her take this rudimentary key and begin to unlock for herself the rich world of written language. I feel blessed to have been with her at this moment of epiphany.
On the drive home I absent-mindedly put a hand in my windbreaker pocket to find that a single stray heart had ended up there. While waiting at a stoplight, I checked it out. "MISS YOU," it read. It was true--I missed the kids already. But as I drove on, I began to wonder about my next visit. Would I still be the official bedtime story reader, or would I have help? It will be fun to find out. Meanwhile, I let the "MISS YOU" morsel melt on my tongue, thankful once more for these tiny conversations of the heart.