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Three months have passed since I found a tiny love note in the playroom and immediately recognized the work of my youngest son. “I love you. Do you love me? Please say yes,” it read.

Many similar notes followed but never left the house, so it wasn’t long before the rest of the family caught on to the fact that Ronnie had a crush on someone in his class.

His older brothers seized upon the chance to tease him, but Ronnie just smiled and openly confessed, “I love Annabella.”

Jimmy and Tommy’s attempts to tease Ronnie failed miserably because he didn’t mind any conversation that brought her name into our home.

“Does she know you like her?” I asked him one day.

“I don’t know,” he replied. “I’m not going to tell her until Valentine’s Day.”

His response left me speechless, which isn’t an easy thing to do.

I had no idea my youngest son was such a little Romeo, keeping his feelings hidden until the most romantic day of the year.

Ronnie’s Valentine’s Day cards were signed and ready to go days before the actual holiday. Annabella was in for a special treat of three little stuffed animals to warm her heart before opening a card that declared his love.

Then, Mother Nature stepped in and put my little Romeo’s plans on delay. Ice and snow covered the area, starting on Valentine’s Eve and continuing throughout the next day.

Tommy, as usual, was the first of my sons to come shuffling down the stairs that morning. He had been counting on a two-hour delay but was more than happy to find out the entire school day had been cancelled.

Telling Ronnie, however, was an entirely different story. “You don’t have school today,” I said, in my most cheerful, snow-loving voice.

I was willing to pretend to like snow and frigid temperatures if it would prevent Ronnie from blowing his top.

It didn’t work. First his lower lip curled down and then his eyes began to water. “But what about the Valentine’s Day party?” he asked.

“They will have it tomorrow or the next day, whenever the roads are clear,” I said, a fake grin covering my face so he wouldn’t sense the panic beneath. “Then you can give out your cards and Annabella’s presents.”

Ronnie completely lost his cool then, crying and grumbling so loud that he woke up Jimmy.

The three of us who were not in tears could see the irony of the situation, but no one was laughing as Ronnie carried on. I didn’t want his feelings to be hurt, and they didn’t want to spend the day surrounded by his misery.

Ronnie’s tears were all dried up by the time breakfast was served, and I had reassured him a thousand times that there would eventually be a Valentine’s party even if it could not be held on Valentine’s Day.

It would seem that someone who could keep his feelings a secret for three months would not have such a hard time waiting a few more days, but for Ronnie, those extra days were a heavy burden to bear.

Luckily, the rest of us knew from past experience with Ronnie’s temper that it was in our best interest to avoid the “A” subject altogether as we drank hot chocolate and sledded our way through those February snow days.

A mother of three boys, Pam Zich has moved eight times in 16 years of marriage to her Marine Corps husband. They have been stationed in various locations, including Okinawa, California, Texas and their current home in Springfield, Va. E-mail her at homefront@stripes.osd.mil or find the Zichs online at www.lifeonthehomefront.com.

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