Nothing says love like a firetruck

Last month my daughter’s chorus teacher at Mount Abraham Union High School, Megan LaRose, sent me an e-mail that was circulating on the Internet that was filled with children’s thoughts about marriage. There was some serious wisdom in it.
And so with Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I decided to visit the Lincoln Elementary School and ask students there for their opinions about love and romance and, yes, Valentine’s Day. I visited the first-graders and the fourth-graders. Grownups, take note. Here is what I learned.
From the first-graders:
“I love Valentine’s Day because I get to make red hearts and wear a red shirt.” (Joe)
“You know people are married because they might have children. What happens is two people get married and then a few days later they get their children.” (Madeline)
“I like Valentine’s Day because it’s my dog’s birthday.” (Saskia)
“To find someone to marry, you look around and find the person with the prettiest eyes.” (Joe)
“You can see if people are married by the way they hold hands.” (Emma)
“Valentine’s Day is just so much fun because you get to give people hearts and notes and Valentines!” (Cecilia)
The very best presents for a wedding or Valentine’s Day, it seems include a brother (Ian); a ring (Chandler); dancing and flowers (Emma); a wish (Saskia); a house (Abigail); a car (Casey); and a firetruck (Lohak).
From the fourth-graders:
“Valentine’s Day is like Christmas, except it’s about loving and kindness and family.” (Jordan)
“I like Valentine’s Day because usually my mom will get me something like a stuffed animal. Last year she got me Hypo. He’s a dog, and he’s named Hypo because he’s hyperactive.” (Chase)
“If a boy wants to get married, he finds some girl and they get all lovey-dovey.” (Sierra)
“The best way to get married is to look at someone’s personality. You want to see if they have the same interests as you. And you want to make sure they’re smart and not dumb. You don’t want to marry someone dumb.” (Allison)
What are some things that the happily married parents of these fourth-graders had in common? The same age (Eliot’s); cooking (Chase’s); and “me” (Anthony). And Finnian’s? “Their hair used to be the same color, but now my mom highlights hers.”
When I asked how you can tell if two people are in love, I learned a new word or, to be precise, a new use for an existing word. But it’s perfect. The answer? “If two people are in love, they’re always glazing at each other,” Jordan told me. By the ebullience with which she imparted this knowledge to me, I don’t think she meant their eyes are glazing over (boredom) or they are glaring at one another (anger). No, I believe she meant that they gaze in a way that is well beyond rapture: Their eyes actually … blaze.
Finally, I asked the group for the very best places for a Valentine’s Day date.
“Pluto. Because no one is there but you and your date. Oh, and the aliens.” (Eliot)
“Mars. Ther’re little holes and steam comes out and you can float.” (Chase)
“Pizza Putt. I want to get married there.” (Megan)
“The drive-in.” (Allison)
“A lightning storm. Or a rodeo. Maybe a lightning storm and a rodeo.” (Jamie)
So, the next time you need some help with your love life? Visit the Lincoln Elementary School. Happy Valentine’s Day.
(This column originally appeared in the Burlington Free Press on February 11, 2007.)

Chris Bohjalian
Chris Bohjalian

Chris Bohjalian is the author of eighteen books, including his forthcoming novel, The Guest Room. His other novels include the New York Times bestsellers Midwives, The Sandcastle Girls, and The Double Bind.

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