Valentine’s Day back in the day

Bernardo Vigil

I miss pre-school. The minimalistic homework, nap time, recess, teachers who aren’t competing to see who can damage your fragile teenage psyche the most––all of these things make me feel nostalgic for simpler days. Most important of all, however, I miss pre-school Valentine’s Day.

Back then, Valentine’s Day was a time one looked forward to, and with good reason. Free chocolate, all of your classmates giving you cards telling you how much they liked you and, if you were lucky, a slightly bigger and less generic valentine from someone of the opposite sex.

Every year I scoured through the Disney Princess cards given by the girls, the Star Wars ones given by the boys, the Dove chocolates and boxes of heart-shaped candy to try to find one specific card which was never there. Throughout my tenure as a pre-school student I unsuccessfully vied for the affections of a certain little French girl whose name escapes me at the moment.

She was the picture of pre-school perfection. Blond hair, a cute little accent, and, best of all, she seemed strangely devoid of cooties. It was love at its purest form: one creepy pre-schooler admiring a classmate from afar. I spoke to her from time to time, but I never mustered up the courage to ask her out for a play date or to go get some apple slices with me.

At the ripe age of four or five, my understanding of women was even more rudimentary than it is now, and due to this fact, I was optimistic and thought that maybe I could win her over by just being myself (this was probably a result of early exposure to 80s teen romantic comedies).

I let her win at duck duck goose, I rode my trike next to her as often as possible, I even shared my dessert with her (for the record, food sharing was strictly prohibited at the time). Still, nothing worked. Never was my failure to woo her more obvious, however, than on Valentine’s Day. All I got from her was a roll of Pez and the same Eiffel Tower valentine that everybody else got. If it were not for the copious amounts of candy that I could eat my feelings into every year, I may have gone mad. Too many sweets may be a leading cause for childhood obesity, but it’s also a great way to alleviate pre-pubescent depression.

Undeterred by the lack of reciprocation in our relationship, I pressed forward hoping that things would take a turn for the better in my love life. Eventually I turned to the advice of a fellow pre-schooler who was just slightly more lady-savvy than I. “I know what you should do! Make her a mud pie! Girls love it when you make things for them.” Somehow I doubted it. At this innocent time in my life, I wasn’t aware of the French people’s fascination with dirt, and maybe if I had been, things would have ended differently than they did.

After the last Valentine’s Day I ever spent in pre-school, she moved back to France. My five-year-old heart was broken. But at least back then I had hope. And candy.