In the past I have been very bad at giving Valentine’s Day gifts to H, which is a great shame because he is far more romantic than I am and deserves better.
Once a couple of years ago, he was cranky because he found an old globe in the recycling. He had given me the globe some years earlier, as a Valentine’s Day present. The arm that makes the globe stand up was broken, and no, I’m not a totally heartless wench, I didn’t just chuck it straight in the bin. I let the kids kick it around the garden for a bit first, because we couldn’t find the soccer ball. Well excuse me for being a problem solver.
When I realised how hurt he was, I went out to the bin and peeled off the maps that featured places we have travelled together, and I glued them together into an apologetic découpage heart. He keeps that on his desk, for never was there a finer example of passive aggression and love and recycling, and the way those three things are woven together in life.
H likes to buy flowers for me on Valentine’s Day. I only remembered it was Valentine’s Eve last night because after we had put the kids to bed and done the washing up and put away the teetering cairns of folded laundry that were hiding our bed, he said, ‘I need to go out.’
He says that twice a year: the night before Valentine’s Day and the night before my birthday. I am supposed to not ask anything so it’s then a surprise when he brings back flowers.
‘Where are you going?’ I asked, because I am slow on the uptake.
‘I just need to go out.
‘OH.’ The penny dropped. ‘Well, wherever it is that you are mysteriously going at this time of night, if they happen to sell bread and milk too could you please get some?’
He looks pissed off that I have rumbled his supermarket romance game. I’m only being practical. I can’t pour roses on the children’s weetbix .
This morning, there were beautiful roses in a vase for me, and more roses in vases for May Blossom and Garnet. Because if there’s one thing that will kill romance faster than having small children, it’s a small child melting down on Valentine’s Day because no-one loves them and how can you love Mummy more than them when Mummy is plainly horrible and puts cucumber in people’s lunchboxes even though she knows people hate it?
Upon receipt of her roses, May Blossom quickly dashed off a card declaring both her and Garnet’s love for us, which was very sweet.
We have been out without the kids a few evenings recently, and so tonight we will celebrate with Romance Tacos, all together. Romance Tacos are remarkably similar to ordinary tacos, except they are served by candlelight and the chef will have briefly considered but then rejected the idea of cutting some of the ingredients into heart shapes.
The other reason for including the children in the celebration of our love is because they are the inventors of something called Romance Club. Honestly, Romance Club is one of the stranger things they’ve come up with. And that’s saying something, considering that for several months when he was two Garnet wore a plastic flower pot on his head and went by the name of Johnsont.
Romance Club burst, fully formed, into our lives a few months ago, during the holidays, when H and I were sitting in the sunroom one evening after dinner, having a drink.
Suddenly, with great fanfare and ceremony, the kids appeared and presented us with a wooden chopping board upon which sat two pieces of leftover roast sweet potato, four raw green beans, half of an already-squeezed lemon, and a pile of cold cooked white rice. They were as pleased with themselves as we were baffled.
They retreated from the room saluting and bowing.
‘Hey, come back,’ we called. ‘What is this?’
May Blossom came back in and said, with great reverence, ‘This . . . is Romance Club.’
And then she was gone.
We still have no idea where this idea came from or what exactly they think romance is. But I’ll take it.
Romance Club happened again last week, although H was home alone with the kids. That time they brought him a cold sausage and two cherry tomatoes, declaring it ‘Romance Club for One!’ Indeed.
So tonight we will all eat tacos and smell the roses, and maybe there will be a little glass of wine for the grownups. I’ll present H with my gift to him (I’ve ironed six of his shirts) and we’ll see if we can’t slam a glass jar over the enigmatic spider that is romance.