2 Beefs with Valentine’s Day and Children

by admin

I am not the greatest father.  Or the most diligent blogger.  Truth is, I am not quite as delinquent at updating this blog as you might think – I have about 5 drafts sitting unpublished in the background.  But it’s harder sometimes that you might think to get something out on paper (or on screen) that constitutes something to say, something that is worth talking about.

With Valentine’s Day upon us, fathers often get wrapped up in trying to express their feelings for their wives, the mother of their children.  My wife apparently got her gift early, in the form of jealous co-workers when she told them that I always say I dislike Valentine’s Day because it’s a cop-out for people to trim romance back to one day a year instead of celebrating their love for their significant other all year long.  No woman would care about Valentine’s Day if she was getting regular flowers, chocolates, back massages and daily passionate kisses. (Not that I achieve such lofty goals, but it’s the thought that counts… right?)

You give what in my name?

You give what in my name?

But all that is aside from the point I wanted to talk about today.  I want to talk about Valentine’s Day for children.  Because a long time ago it was decided that children need to celebrate this day too.  Early indoctrination to one of the foremost Hallmark holidays of the year?  I don’t know.  What I do know is at least as long as I have been alive, schools have encouraged and supported the idea of kids bringing Valentine’s Day cards to school and distributing them. Kids as young as 5.  I never went to preschool so maybe preschoolers do it too… but I know even as a very young child I would make out little cards with each student’s name on them, and hand them out at school on or about Valentine’s Day.

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I do miss the ridiculously bad puns though.

I do miss the ridiculously bad puns though.

I remember the process was more complicated for me, perhaps because my parents weren’t as lazy as I am, so they actually helped me shop for a box of cards, with the theme of my choice, and helped me punch them all out of their perforated paper, and helped me write the names of all my classmates on each one, and put them in little envelopes.  I complicated the process by poring over my actual feelings for each classmate – whether I like them or not, whether they played nice, whether they were a bully, whether I thought they actually liked me back.  I tried to give ones that were “girly” to girls and “boyish” to boys.  Then, at school, the teacher would lead us in a craft of building a “mailbox” for our valentines, and collecting them all in one place, usually made out of two paper plates cut in half and stapled together.

Contrast this to my 7 year old’s experience this year.  I couldn’t be bothered to go to the store to shop for actual cards (we’re a little broke right now) so I found an overachieving, photoshop-talented mommy blogger (sorry, lady, you love your kids way more than me to take that kind of time to prepare for this) who had made up some Minecraft valentines (seriously, there’s more than one of these – I can’t believe how many Moms have this kind of time on their hands!)  I printed them up on our inkjet, cut them out exactly 2 minutes before I sent my kid out the door to our private school bus (called the Thunderwagon for all the noise it makes with 6 boys screaming and fighting in it), and left it to him to write his name on each card before handing them out.

You’ll note I didn’t make any for any of my other kids because they never asked.  That’s how I roll.  It minimizes the paperwork.

Agape love, man.  Agape.

Agape love, man. Agape.

I asked him about the experience after school.  I asked him if he had given thought as to who would get which valentines – nope.  He just handed them out willy nilly.  One kid begged him for an Enderman one – he conceded that – nice to know he was thoughtful.

Then once we got home the negotiations began for the timing and rate of consumption of the valentine CANDY(!) he had obtained along with said class valentines.

It was in that moment that I began pondering.  What are we doing?  When did Valentine’s Day become another Hallowe’en?  Loot bags with each card?  Really?  This is right up there with the other mommies who make me feel inadequate with their trays full of cupcakes for the entire class on their kid’s birthday, or worse, classroom-wide invitations to massive parties involving waterslides or rented gyms with rented bouncy castles.  So that’s issue #1 – Valentine Overkill.

Think about it.  Valentine’s Day has always been about romantic love.  What are we DOING as parents that we are encouraging children to consider whether they have feelings, romantic or otherwise, for their entire class?  I suppose the LGBTQ-rights crusaders are probably satisfied that boys and girls are giving valentines to either gender, keeping their options open.  But really, what business do Kindergarteners, really kids all the way up to grade 6 probably, have any business contemplating romance, let alone being encouraged to do so by their parents and their teachers?  That’s issue #2 – Age Inappropriate Romance.

This has reached new heights in the 21st Century with all these helicopter parents trying to smother their 1 or 2 children with everything to make up for the fact that either they are never around because they are a double-income family, or Daddy is never home because he works 3 weeks in the patch then comes “home” only to get on his toys and “relax” anywhere but at home.  But maybe I should lighten up.  Because it’s harmless fun.  And it’s tradition – at least for the last 40 years.  But there you go.  Exactly 1000 words on the weird world of Valentine’s Day for schoolchildren.  Anybody else weirded out by it?

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