One Valentine’s Day I volunteered to help a neighbor’s kids get ready for their first class parties. I went to the store for cupcake ingredients and five kids’ worth of boxed Valentines. I picked up the other three and sat them at the table with my two youngest. I told them to write their cards while I made nine dozen cupcakes. My kids were done and ready to go outside in fifteen minutes. Two hours later, the new kids were still writing.
My kids and my neighbor’s are all grown and scattered now, working or in college. Some have become U.S. citizens and the others will someday. I wonder if they remember their first American Valentine's Day and how much they taught me and my kids about privilege: about a life so safe, so secure, so calm, that education itself has space for something as silly as a classroom party of cards and cupcakes.