• Stephanie Valentine

A Special Kiss

I'm going to be a strict mum. I know that love is the most important thing - you've got to have lots of kisses and cuddles - but you also need to mix it with discipline or you'll be in a heap of trouble. - Jill Scott

You are at a real advantage when your mother is an educator. When I say educator, I don’t just mean she works as a teacher. I mean someone who knows that mom is your first teacher. The time before a child formerly starts school should be filled with fun learning experiences. Not only was my mom an educator, but she was a nurturer too. These are two great qualities to have in a parent.

The name Stephanie is not unusual in today’s terms. It means crowned. All of this is lost on a four-year old girl who is trying to learn how to spell her name. I have the longest name out of my siblings and who can remember if the “i” comes before or after the “n”. My mom came up with a song – S-t-e, p-h-a, n-i-e spells Stephanie. I just thought it was the most wonderful thing that I had a song to remember how to spell my name.

Another great example of my mom’s wisdom had to do with my birthmark. It started as a strawberry-shaped, slightly raised spot. As I got older, it flattened, but then I developed a green port-au-wine stain on the side of my face. Additionally, I have two different colors on my eye lids. This sounds like a problem, but truthfully, we never went through a “I have to wear makeup stage”. I did go through phases when I wished I didn’t have this spot on my face in addition to the acne I was fighting. (Is it really necessary for a person to still have pimples in their 30s?) When I look at my face now, I don’t have the same anxiety about my spot. My mom said the strawberry was my late grandmother kissing me on the forehead. That made it special. When I was married, people who cautiously approach me wondering if I was a battered woman. My husband wasn’t that crazy. We only experienced one incident when he looked like he was thinking of going in that direction and he was quickly redirected. When Kermit the Frog sings “It’s not easy being green” I can totally relate!

When you have three sons, you have to be able to think quickly. When my guys played baseball, I often volunteered to keep the players ready in the dugout. I coached sometimes too, but I preferred the dugout. There are few things busier than a dugout with 11 little boys. My sons knew if I said sit down and be still that that is what I meant, but I had to come up with something else for the rest of the team. I would tell the other players to sit still and in their proper order or else I would kiss them in the middle of their forehead. Nothing strikes fear in a little boy’s mind like the promise of being kissed, especially on their forehead. For the real hard headed ones, I told them I would put on purple lipstick and kiss them on their foreheads. You can be sure I had the most orderly dugouts at Milford Park! It was an easy way to keep order and not get in trouble with the other parents.

Every now and again, we run into young men who used to play on a team with my sons, and one of the things they laugh about is the purple lipstick and the players who received the dreaded kiss.


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Atlanta, GA

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