Valentine parties in the 1980’s were sorta a big deal at Eastview Elementary.
February, found us kiddos barely holding it together in anticipation of the chocolate saturated celebrations that were about to ensue. From cards to candy grams, games and fun, it was a red and pink free for all. However, no aspect excited us more than the Valentine box contest.
Each classroom, turned gallery of homemade artistry, found us proudly displaying our creative endeavors on top our desks in hopes of being chosen for the climax of all Valentine events, the Winner’s Parade.
And wouldn’t you know it, the same kid, Brian Breightenger, won this event-
Our sixth grade year, (otherwise know as Brian’s magnum opus) he showed up with a miniature version of the Love Boat (google it) spanning 3 feet long, and built out of wood.
Wood! With actual nails, and cute little lifesaver preservers to accent the boat’s three tiered deck. Seriously?
The pride in our own valentine handiwork quickly dissolved as the rest of us stood defeated with our piddly elmer glued cardboard boxes and glitter sprinkled paper bags.
Brian’s victorious Valentine boat submission was so immense that he required help carrying it through the school parade route. I mean, he was literally showboating.
And we were all a bit jealous.
So I did what any insecure twelve year old would do and I called his boat stupid.
I mean, obviously he had help. What elementary kid knows how to operate a jigsaw? Shouldn’t there be rules about the authenticity of each participant’s craftsmanship? Jesh.
And here we are thirty-some years later and still in the same boat. (wink)
Only now, it’s not an “official” contest, but somehow life in general feels like an everyday contest. Right?
And there’s always someone with a bigger boat.
While I truly want to be a person that champions others, full of affirmation and high fives…
Sometimes my twelve year old self shows up instead.
And I start calling things stupid.
Not audibly (usually).
But when my exterior world is a little too full and loud, I find my interior world getting a little judgey, sarcastic or critical… the ugly underbelly of envy.
Which is usually my cue to take a time out. At least for a bit.
Cause we all have an internal monologue.
Emotional maturity is the ability to connect our internal monologue to the current condition of our hearts.
Don’t miss that.
This “show and tell” culture begs the insecure 12 year old in all of us to come out and play.
And every time we judge, criticize or compare ourselves with others, our hearts shift a little towards bitterness.
But when we pay attention to our inner chatter, we can discern when to shut down the outer chitchat for a bit in order to relocate some perspective and truth on our heart’s behalf.
(and on behalf of those we’re calling stupid.)
So, this inner listening thing requires us to get honest.
Yep, we have to actually call ourselves out sometimes.
And then put ourselves in time out, until we’re ready to play nice again.
Cause life is gonna hand us plenty of Love Boat kinda days;
And I’d much rather my grown up self show up to greet them.
Sidenote: I may or may not have embellished the magnitude and details of Brian’s love boat…it’s been a minute since 6th grade, but I’m pretty sure my memory serves me correctly….almost. Also, Brain was absolutely one of the nicest kids at Eastview Elementary – true story.