Paper Sparkle Valentine

Let me tell you a little story…

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When I was in Grade 1, my father went to my school to speak with my teacher during parent-teacher interviews. When it was his turn, she brought him out into the hallway where there was a typical primary-school bulletin board displaying the latest art project the class had completed. 

The assignment had been to create a valentine card. We had been given construction paper and markers and had been guided to follow very specific instructions on how to fold the paper in half, draw a heart on the front, and write a nice message inside with our newly acquired alphabet skills.

The teacher gestured toward the bulletin board and solemnly explained to my father what the constraints of the assignment had been.

“Okay… so which one is Maya’s?” he asked, genuinely confused as to where she was going with this.

“It’s not on the board,” she said, her voice tense and serious.

Oh no, thought my father. What has she done now? Even at the green age of six, I had already managed to garner a reputation as a mischief-maker.

She brought him back into the classroom and over to her desk where she sat down, sighed heavily and slowly opened the top drawer, carefully pulling out my construction-paper valentine with both hands and placing it gently on the desk for my dad to take in.  

He used all the self-control he could muster to contain his extreme amusement as she described how I had: failed to listen to instructions, used more paper than was allotted per student, somehow gotten ahold of scissors, glue and glitter and had created an elaborate three-dimensional paper sculpture, complete with an explosion of accordion pop-up hearts, window cutouts containing secret messages, and little drawings of cats and dogs and people and all manner of things that were definitely not in the curriculum for that assignment.

When she was finished voicing her concerns, he breathed deeply, thanked her for filling him in on what had been going on, and reassured her that he would address this issue with me at home. She thanked him and handed him my abomination to take home, away from the bulletin board where it could no longer subvert the masses.

That paper valentine was taped to our fridge for a very long time.

So why am I telling you this, dear one?

Special thanks to my mom for this drawing from my journal, 1994.

Special thanks to my mom for this drawing from my journal, 1994.

Because I have a suspicion that like 6-year-old me, you too have an exploding sparkle paper-heart story – a time (or many times) in your life when you didn’t do what was expected of you. Not because you were trying to be “difficult” or “disobedient” but because you had something to say.

In fact I suspect there are lots of things you don’t do like anybody else. That’s why you are here. You are truly one-of-a-kind. There really never has been another you before you, and there never will be again.

Some people will never understand why you do things the way you do. F*ck em! I am here to tell you that there are people (like my dad) who get it. Who will support and encourage you in your unique ways of approaching life, who will admire your courage, your imagination and your grit – who see you as you truly are, and accept you fully and wholeheartedly.

Now, I would love to hear from you! If it floats your boat, leave a comment below and tell me about a time in your life where you did something your way and it made you feel alive.

With all my love, thank you for being here,