Let’s talk about Valentine’s Day. Has your child picked out his/her valentines to pass out to classmates? If not, you may want to do so; the Fourth of July decorations are probably on their way to store shelves!
However, back to those valentines – I have a little grumble with how far they have come in recent years. This will be my son’s third year passing out valentines to his classmates. So as a parent, this is relatively new to me. I was, however, a kindergarten teacher for a while, so I am not new to valentine exchanges altogether. Passing out valentines to your classmates is a big deal in preschool/early elementary. Younger kids may love making items for their friends, but older kids crave the independence often permitted when they are able to choose which valentines they would like to pass out.
But, my goodness, what happened to the days when kids exchanged just traditional valentines. You know what I mean, the kind with cute sayings, colorful characters, a special one for the teacher, and they folded into a neat little square or a rectangle. Sometimes they even had a sheet of red heart stickers to seal them closed. I KNOW those still exist. I’ve seen them on my Target runs. Each Valentine’s Day, my son has come home with a bag or box full of valentines. The bag or box is usually bursting at the seams because NO ONE seems to just pass out a valentine card. There are these elaborate, no doubt Pinterest worthy, valentines that feature games of tic tac toe, a catchy saying and a Hot Wheels car, a bag of candy, or a pet donkey (ok I exaggerated that last one). A couple of years ago, I vividly remember my son receiving a little plastic purple unicorn with one of his valentines. He carried it around for the rest of the day. It even made it into the bathtub that night. But after that bath, it disappeared into the depths of the toy bins, never to be asked about or played with again. The little plastic purple unicorn went out with the trash in one of my monthly purges of the ‘junk’ lurking at the bottom of the toy bins. I threw away that unicorn, and my son doesn’t know or care, but I thought about the fact that someone paid money for that. The following year my son received a penis straw in his valentine box. Yes, a penis-shaped straw. I’m assuming that mom felt like she needed to step up her valentine game without spending a lot of money, so she dipped into her stash of bulk Bachelorette party supplies. In her defense, maybe she just thought they were really unique silly straws.
Just calm down, Valentine’s Day. What’s wrong with the traditional valentine cards? Isn’t the point of celebrating Valentine’s Day to simply send a note of love and friendship? Unicorns and anatomy straws are cool too, but completely unnecessary.
So, if you have not already prepared beautiful valentines for your child’s classmates, consider going back to the good old traditional valentines. Where it’s simply a message of friendship. I’ll admit, I have done some of the super crafty valentines in the past, but I decided this year it’s just a card. I’m going to have my son read the message on the card and think about which classmate he would like to address it to. Let him have some ownership in this activity, and really think about the relationships he has in his young life. I’m going to make a point to talk to my son about being grateful for what he gets in his valentine box, especially the ‘plain cards.’ Because the simple valentines or even homemade cards can send a message more valuable than a ‘gift.’ It’s probably also not in every family’s budget to purchase ‘gifts’ for all classmates. So let’s celebrate this small holiday in the way it is intended, to spread love. Write out a little note to your friends and family to let them know you love them. Really, we should all do this more often, so why not use Valentine’s Day as the perfect starting point. No toys, penis straws, candy, or donkeys needed.