she’s a girl with glasses

february won’t you be my valentine

Considering it’s been nearly two months since my last post and the subject I’m writing about now, I’m beginning to wonder if I don’t have a massive issue with holidays– and, of course, what this massive issue I have is. Whatever, it’s my blog, if I feel like dissecting my consciousness, I’ll do it. Right now, though, I’m here to bitch.

This year, both of my kids started at a new school. K went to kindergarten and first grade at a school about 7 miles from our home: we liked the kindergarten and were disappointed in first grade. As such, when we were looking for an ECE for M, and discovered the program at the school that was reopening near my parents, we decided to enroll them both. It was mostly for the program– green living, community consciousness, learning by participation and student input– but also because I can’t bend the laws of space and time, and all elementary schools get out at the same time.

Now, we love this school. So far, it has lived up to all of its promises. My daughter’s class has planted a garden from which they were able to harvest vegetables this last fall for a party, calculated the amount of energy their school is using through lighting and how to reduce it, and have become educated such subjects as biomass, solar energy and recycling. My son’s class is all about learning how to work with others and grow as a person within a community. They’re both thriving. They do yoga every morning and they complain when they have a day off.

So why am I tantruming right now? Valentine’s Day.

It’s likely not for the reason you think. I’m against kids being left out, but, in my experience, both as a kid in school and with K, I’ve never seen one left out. You’re required to bring a Valentine for everyone in the class. Seems nice enough to me.

Their school has decided to “reinvent” the holiday. No store-bought Valentines. No candy. Kids are “welcome” to make handmade Valentines for everyone in the class.

Now, that’s all well and good. There is entirely too much consumption in the world. But I’m pouting. Why? I made a plan with the kids to make little organza bags with a handful of candies inside and whatever Valentine boxes they wanted from the store. I’m not the mom who forbids princesses and Disney from the house. I understand the love of those strange little cards in the flat boxes. Why not indulge one day a year?

And, most importantly, at least to me: why no treats? If this was a treat-free school, if we’d signed on for that, then fine. But, really, this is a school that likes a party. The Winter Fest in K’s class included cupcakes and cookies. Every birthday has been marked by the same. Sugar is not forbidden. Neither classroom is peanut-free. Chocolate flows freely.

But Valentine’s Day has brought a sudden turn-around. I am not a sap. I don’t give two shits about getting a card or flowers from my husband. For me, Valentine’s Day is two things and the first is candy. My family is all about holidays where you eat. We’ve changed most of them to become about the eating rather than anything else: turkey on Thanksgiving (it’s the model, of course, for all other holidays), prime rib on Christmas, more turkey on Easter (made spring-like with asparagus and salads), burgers and pie on Fourth of July. We’re an eating family. Valentine’s Day means sweets.

But, more importantly to me: Valentine’s Day is a day to remember to be nice. Yes, it’s a manufactured holiday, invented solely to increase card and candy sales. I don’t believe the conspiracy about making single folks feel bad, but, sure, it’s a way to drive up spending on things you wouldn’t ordinarily think about. But, when you’re a kid, it’s about getting to tell your friends you like them. And that’s important. Kids, in general, are assholes. My kids certainly are, and I think they’re superior to most. Kids need to be reminded not to be dicks for a day.

In this vein, their school is having them write letters to each other talking about what they feel makes their classmate a valuable member of the community. Great! But no one can write twenty letters in the allotted time in class. Considering how K likes to fluff up her writing, making up a fake sort of cursive, if she gets through one, I’ll be impressed. How’s that for making every kid feel included? Each child gets through two or three letters, plenty of kids are bound to be left out.

I’m a gift-giver. I love giving presents, I love finding things that will make people smile. I’ve been that way since I was very small and, as my father likes to tell people, kind of constantly, I would give everyone who came my way a slice of bologna. It was my favorite thing, and so I wanted to share it. I send my best friend gifts constantly. I rarely see something I want for myself, but every time I leave the house, I find at least a dozen presents I’d love to give people in my life.

Valentine’s Day is about delicious sweets and being kind to others. What, exactly, is so wrong with making sure everyone of my kids’ classmates gets a little handful of candy from him and her? It’s really the simplest thing: this is something I like and I want you to have it. Reinvent the holiday? Why are we fixing the wheel?


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Have the kids type a note into the computer, print it out 20 or so times, and glue it on to their hand-colored/cut/decorated cards. (Or have them write one, and scan and print it out for all.)I agree that too much is too much, especially at that age. (And fill their bags with treats to give their friends AFTER school.)

Comment by Kathy S

I think that their school’s “reinvention” of valentine’s day is kind of insane. I’m guessing the handmade/letter writing thing has something to do with the recession…? But you’re right, there’s no way anyone is going to be able to make, like, 30-40 of those things. My 5-year-old cousin’s school has a “no birthday cupcake” policy, which I think is pretty weird. When I was in elementary school we used to bring cupcakes for everyone on our birthdays and it was awesome. I don’t really get the ban on sweets for special occasions.

Comment by Amber

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