Well, this Sunday is Valentine's Day (and regular grown-up readers will know that I'll be publishing my "How To Be Single on Valentine's Day" piece, in conclusion to my romance-related "How To..." series. So, check back for that!
Children seem to grow up very fast these days and the desire to be doing all the things that older kids are doing seems to be stronger than ever. With that in mind, I thought I'd shoehorn Valentine's Day into my weekly bedtime story, too. I've pitched it at slightly older children, perhaps the 7-10 range. I'm also dedicating it to my lovely mum, who, when I was a child, used to make me a Valentine's Card every year.
If you'd rather listen to this week's bedtime story as a podcast, you can do so by clicking here.
Feel the love...
"These love hearts are everywhere," Vicky exclaimed, picking up a heart-shaped box of chocolates.
"That's because tomorrow is Valentine's Day," her mum explained.
Vicky put the chocolates back and wrinkled her nose. She stood in the supermarket, shaking her head. "Why does everyone need a special day to say 'I love you' to their boyfriend or girlfriend? Shouldn't they be telling them that every day?"
Vicky's mum chuckled to herself. "You'd think so, wouldn't you?" She picked up a big, pink teddy bear and smiled a little half-smile. "Maybe I'll buy your dad a bear..."
Vicky sighed to herself. "Lola's made Daniel a Valentine's card," she said. "And Daniel's apparently got her a necklace."
Vicky's mum pulled a face. "Seriously?!" She put the bear back down. "When I was only eight years old, I certainly wasn't worrying about getting Valentine's presents from boys. Honestly, kids grow up too fast, these days."
Vicky frowned. "Yeah, but Emily's gone bowling with Sam and his family, today," she reminded her mum.
"Your sister's fifteen," her mum replied. "And it's scary to think how fast she's growing up, too. I don't remember having a boyfriend at her age..."
"I bet Sam will buy her a Valentine's card," Vicky sighed. "So, she'll have something to open tomorrow, as well."
Her mum paused and looked at her. "Are you alright?"
Vicky nodded. "Yeah," she mumbled. "I just feel like tomorrow is going to be a day for everyone but me. And that's a bit sad."
"Your time will come," her mum laughed.
Vicky smiled. But inside, she was a little bit worried. If her best friend, Lola, was going to become Daniel's girlfriend, would that mean that she didn't want to play with Vicky, anymore? And if her big sister, Emily, was always going out with Sam, who would Vicky hang out with at home?
Vicky didn't even want a boyfriend. Most of the boys in her class were into football and she thought that was boring. Still, the idea of being left out didn't feel very nice. And the more Vicky thought about it, the more worried she became.
She was quiet all the way home and when all of the shopping was packed away, her dad gave her a hug. "What's up, Vick? You're not yourself!"
Vicky shrugged. "Everyone has someone to give them a Valentine's card tomorrow, except me."
Her dad frowned. "You're much too young to be worrying about things like that," he told her. "Besides, it's just a silly day. And the cards only end up being recycled or shoved into a drawer, anyway."
But Vicky no longer cared what happened to the cards. She just knew that she wanted one. And she wasn't going to get one and it didn't seem fair. "Everyone has someone to love, apart from me," she huffed and she stormed upstairs to her room.
By the time Vicky went to bed, she was feeling pretty miserable. She turned off the light and sighed. It was just a day. And she was only young. But everyone had someone who loved them and she didn't. As she snuggled down under the duvet, Vicky felt sadder than ever.
In the morning, the sun came streaming through Vicky's window. She woke up, yawned and stretched.
"Vicky!" Her mum's voice called from downstairs. "Breakfast is on the table!"
Vicky plodded down the stairs, her eyes still full of sleep. When she saw her family, sitting around the table, she frowned. Her mum, dad and sister were sitting down for breakfast, but there was something unusual. There on Vicky's plate, instead of food, was a big, pink card, with lots of hearts stuck on it. "What's that?!"
"Open it and find out," her mum told her.
Vicky hurried to the table and opened the card. "It's a Valentine's card!" She exclaimed. "And you've all signed it - you, dad and Emily!"
"You said that everyone has someone to love except you, but that's not true," her mum said. "You have us. And you'll always have us, not just on Valentine's Day, but every day."
Her dad nodded. "There's more than one kind of love," he continued. "It doesn't just mean being someone's boyfriend or girlfriend. Love is about friends and family, too."
Vicky grinned. "This is the best Valentine's card ever," she said. "And I'm sorry I got so cross, yesterday."
"Never mind that," Emily told her little sister. "Let's just eat breakfast, so we can spend the day with our Valentine."
"Me?!" Vicky asked, grinning.
"You," Emily laughed.
After that, Vicky never worried about whether she got a card on Valentine's Day again. She knew she had love all year around. And that was all that mattered.