I Think You’re Dino-Mite!
Valentine's Day had never been a day that registered for Claire. It was just another day in the month, as ordinary as the ones before and after it. Sure, she'd had boyfriends and dates on the day, but she hated the whole concept of it. Buy expensive flowers – that were made expensive purely because of demand, and therefore you also ended up with lower quality for more money – and drowning yourself in sugar. Which also didn't make sense, because as she got older, the ads moved to being about the skimpy lingerie that she should be buying for her man, and who feels sexy after consuming 2 pounds of chocolate?
When she'd been with Owen, the first Valentine's Day had snuck up on them during the initial Jurassic World fallout, and neither had even realized it had happened until days later, at which point they both had just shrugged and moved on. Their second one, was when they were living out of the van, and at that point, they really weren't paying attention to calendars, and only registered the time of the year when they were picking up groceries. Owen had asked if she'd like to do something for the day, and Claire had laid out her argument against it, to which he'd looked relieved. By the time Valentine's Day had rolled around a few days later, they had both forgotten about it, and it was just another day.
But, it turned out that it was a holiday that was impossible to ignore when you have kids in your life. Maisie had come home from school the week before with a list of all her classmates names and a note from the teacher. It had laid out, very clearly, that if students were going to participate in Valentine's Day (highly recommend) that they needed to bring one for every classmate (please refer to the attached sheet) and that, to accommodate allergies, they were asking that no food items be included as part of the valentine.
Having never participated in a Valentine's Day before, Maisie had been very interested in the whole concept. The idea of picking out cards to give her classmates was exciting enough. But knowing that people gave small gifts with them (like a chocolate or lollipop or eraser, Claire had tried to readjust her expectations) had just about sent her over the moon. Claire was getting flashbacks to Halloween, where she'd thankfully been able to push the task of trick-or-treating onto Owen, who had looked as eager as Maisie to be able to go out. (She had forgotten when she'd done that, that it meant she'd have to answer the door. So much for hiding out in the house and getting work done.)
And so, on the weekend, Claire had taken on the task of hunting down valentine cards and an assorted gift for Maisie to give her classmates. She'd expected it to be easy – stop by the local target and grab a box of whatever the current "in" movie or tv show was. Maisie had had other ideas, picking them over, and dismissing most, saying that her classmates would probably get those and she wanted hers to be unique. It had taken them a few stores before Maisie had settled on a pack of dinosaur themed cards ("Are you sure?" Claire had asked, looking warily at the box of cards. "Uh huh," Maisie had nodded, clutching them tightly). However, they still weren't done, as now they needed to find a small token gift that would match. After Claire had turned down most options (too expensive, too childish – Claire knew that Maisie was still struggling to adjust and fit in at school – or a food item), Maisie had settled on a pack of dinosaur stickers. Who didn't like stickers?
That evening, while Claire had busied herself with some DPG work, Maisie had joined her in her office, the box of cards and stickers with her, and carefully labelled all the cards and signed her name, before tucking a few stickers inside each one. A muffled snort had grabbed Claire's attention at one point, and she'd looked up to see Owen in the doorway, snickering at them both, before he quickly moved away at her glare. She knew Owen thought the whole kids exchanging valentines was ridiculous (she agreed), but at least the one's Maisie had found didn't include sayings like "be mine." Instead, they were all dinosaur puns (Claire ahd rolled her eyes) but mundane and inoffensive: "You are roar-some!", "I think you're dino-mite!", "You are T-riffic!", "Have a roar-ing good Valentine's Day!"
For the first time in her adult life, Claire had actually marked Valentine's Day on her calendar, wanting to make sure that Maisie remembered to take the valentines with her. The morning of, Claire and Maisie had checked Maisie's backpack twice (Owen rolling his eyes in the background, with a muttered "I would've dropped them off if she forgot") to make sure she didn't forget them. And then, once Claire had left for work, it was immediately forgotten.
Arriving home that evening, she'd been greeted by Maisie the moment she'd walked through the door, a bag clutched tightly in Maisie's hand.
"Look!" Maisie had shook the bag at her, before pulling Claire into the kitchen so she could dump the contents on the table. Twenty-five or so Valentine's Day cards came tumbling out, along with a few other trinkets. Claire nodded along, ooh-ing and aah-ing at the appropriate moments, as Maisie showed off what she'd received.
"No one else had the same cards as me," Maisie informed her, showing Claire how she had duplicate Star Wars and Trolls cards. "And everyone was putting their stickers on their agendas!"
Claire smiled at Maisie's proud look, before looking commenting, "I bet no one spent as much time on theirs either." She ignored the snort that came from Owen, who was busy finishing up dinner.
"I'm so glad you had a good day," Claire told Maisie, as they carefully put all the cards back in the bag.
"The best!" Maisie beamed. "We learned a lot about the day, too."
"Oh yeah?" Claire asked, moving into the kitchen to grab plates and cutlery before bringing it to the table. Maisie helped her set the table before grabbing a glass of water for herself, as Claire grabbed the bottle of red that Owen had already opened and poured glasses for the two of them.
"About how the day is named after a Saint and how it's about romantic love." Maisie paused and Claire had to hide her own snort at the disgusted look on Maisie's face. "We also learned about cupid and that they shoot people with bow and arrows. I don't get that part, though."
"That's cause the whole holiday is useless," Owen commented, settling the plate of lamb chops on the table, before turning back for the sides.
"It's not useless," Claire replied, settling into her chair.
"That's not what you've said before," Owen shrugged, settling into his own chair, the three starting to serve themselves. "I swear you gave me a whole essay on why you hate the holiday the last time we talked about it."
"Owen," Claire protested, looking over at Maisie, who was regarding the two curiously.
"So you're a fan, now?" Owen asked, raising an eyebrow, before putting a chop onto Maisie's plate.
"Well, no…" Claire said slowly, because she really wasn't a fan. She just didn't want to ruin the day for Maisie. "I don't like the commercialization of the holiday," Claire said, trying to figure out the right way to word it. "But I'm not against people being friendly and showing those around them that they care and love them."
"Huh, so you really can teach an old dog new tricks," Owen joked, raising his hands in defense when Claire acted like she was about to throw one of her grape tomatoes at him.
"I'm not old," Claire disagreed. "I'm younger than you."
"That's true – you can never catch me," Owen winked at her, before turning back to his food. He redirected the conversation back to Maisie and what she'd done that day at school.
As Maisie and Claire cleared the table after the meal, Owen disappeared out of the room, before returning with his hands tucked behind his back.
"So…" Owen drawled, interrupting the two from their task. "I have to say, I'm glad that Claire's changed her mind about today, because it makes this easier."
"Did you get Claire a valentine?" Maisie asked eagerly. "I mean, you love her. You're supposed to, right?"
"I do and I did," Owen nodded at Maisie, before bringing forward a small wrapped package and handing it to Claire, who accepted it cautiously. "It's not going to bite you," Owen promised, watching her reaction.
Maisie crowded close to Claire, watching as Claire carefully opened the wrapping, gently pulling at the tape and hardly damaging the paper at all. "Just rip it," Maisie said, the anticipation getting to her.
Claire pulled out a box about the size of a piece of paper and lifted up the lid. Inside, nestled in some tissue paper, was a silver frame, containing one of the pictures Lucas had taken of the two of them on their wedding day. While Lucas had supplied them with many photos, Claire hadn't got around to getting any printed yet, having been busy with their move, Maisie starting school and the opening of the dinosaur sanctuary that had all happened in quick succession afterwards. It was on her list, but had never seemed to make it to the top.
"I know you've got plans on some that you want to get printed," Owen commented, as he watched her looking down at their photo, "but I thought maybe this one you could keep in your office – here or at the DPG."
"This is one of my favourites," Claire said, her fingers trailing across the photo, mind flashing back to that day. She turned to Owen, after settling the gift on the table. "Thanks for not getting me something cliche," she whispered, standing on her tiptoes to give him a short kiss. Pulling back, she added. "You're making me feel bad. I didn't get you anything."
"I don't need anything," Owen shrugged.
"No candy?" Maisie looked up at the two, where she'd been inspecting the box, lifting up the frame as if hoping to find a hidden layer of chocolates underneath. She looked disappointed.
"Claire's not the candy monster in this house," Owen laughed, before he brought his other hand forward, holding a small gift bag. "Happy Valentine's Day Maisie," he handed the bag over.
Unlike Claire, Maisie tore into the gift, pulling out the tissue paper and then tilting the bag letting the contents tumble out. A small box of fancy chocolates – a kind Maisie recognized from trips to the mall, but that both Claire and Owen had said were too expensive – and a small dinosaur stuffed animal holding a heart slid out. "Wow," Maisie said, picking up the chocolates to examine them.
"Valentine's Day is not complete without chocolate," Owen said, looking pleased with himself. "And I know you've wanted to try these."
Maisie opened the box of chocolates, looking down at the four nestled inside. She looked up at Claire and Owen for a second before down again, then held the box out towards them. "Do you want one?"
They both shook their heads no, neither missing the relieved look that crossed Maisie's face.
"They're all yours," Claire told her, before turning back to Owen, wrapping her arm around his waist and tucking herself close to his side. "Thank you," she repeated softly, her gaze on Maisie.
"Hey, I may not like the holiday," Owen replied equally softly, "but I saw how excited she was about it."
"Not just for her," Claire shook her head. "For both of us."
"You can thank me later," Owen winked at her, before raising an eyebrow suggestively. Claire laughed, but she didn't disagree.