C’est L’amour

I just finished the single-most futile yet somehow obligatory task in all of motherhood: my children’s Valentines cards. Combined, we completed over 40 this year. And yes, the kids did help. A little.

This afternoon (Feb. 13) at 5:00pm I found myself browsing through Shoppers Drug Marts’ assorted Valentine offerings along with all the Dads who had left the task to the last minute. The funny part is that I am not a Dad, but a Mom who is supposed to love Valentines Day and all it stands for. I’m supposed to be the torchbearer of all things sappy and pink in a household where my gender is outnumbered 4:1, but I just cannot do it. In my mind, Valentines Day and this ridiculous tradition of handing out a Valentine to every child in the class could be done away with, beginning immediately.

Being the saintly mother that I am, however, there I was standing in the drug store trying to decide on whether to throw my money away on Dinosaur Valentines or (official) NHL Valentines. The Dad next to me was on his cell phone with his 6-year-old: “How about Hello Kitty? No? Tinkerbell?… Ummmm, pink, it looks like… The Tinkerbell ones are Pop-Ups. No? So Hello Kitty then? Ok, I’ll keep looking.”

I wasn’t about to let my kids make the choice between dumb and dumber, and so I went with the non-licensed character Picture Search Valentines for Teddy, who would love that type of thing, and the Dolphin Pop-Up Valentines for Sammy, who would also love that type of thing. Had I realized that the pop-ups aren’t actually built-in, I would have dropped that box like a hot potato.

While Teddy went about preparing his Valentines like a seasoned pro in a chicken processing plant, Sammy needed more guidance (this being his first Valentines Day, after all). He was so taken with those dolphins that all he wanted to do was play with them. I repeatedly reminded him that his only task was to sign his name, which he did to the best of his ability. My tasks in preparing those Valentines included:

  •  punching the 20 dolphins out of the cardboard
  • matching the correct dolphin to the correct card background (which took some figuring out, seeing as there were 8 different card designs and 8 different dolphin types – Yay!)
  • bending the little tabs to fit into the little slots of the cards
  • carefully finagling them through the little slots
  • ensuring that each dolphin would actually pop up
  • securing the card tops into the little tabs to keep it closed
  • addressing it to the lucky classmate who would receive this token of Sam’s affections.

The hilarious thing is that Sammy has no interest in actually giving Valentines to girls. Just this morning he was telling me that girls only gave to girls and boys only gave to boys.

If only this were so, my Boy.

The truth is that there is this unspoken 11th commandment that says “thou shalt prepare a Valentine for each child in the class of thy progeny with a view to each child’s fragile self-esteem and the other parents’ esteem of thee. Shouldst thou disregard this immovable law, thou and thy child shalt be smitten with the knowledge that thou wast the only family to not participate in this most sacred Elementary sacrament.”

So every year I put it off until the very last minute, finally haul my reticent rear-end to Shoppers Drug Mart on February 13, and spend the evening helping my children complete a task that they really cannot be expected to do by themselves at the age of 4.

I asked one last-minute Dad whose children are in grades 5 and 2 whether there was any end in sight to this madness. He didn’t offer me much hope, saying that the tradition was still alive and well in his daughters’ grade 5 class. I’ve done the math, people. If this blight lasts until grade 6, I will have spent 12 years buying and preparing Valentines that will only end up in the recycling the next day (at least if the other homes are anything like ours). For 7 of those years I will be responsible for more than 60 Valentines.

I think it’s time to start a revolution.

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3 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    bettythecanadianmenno said,

    Interestingly enough, I spend every year at the store weeks before, wondering whether I should buy a few extra boxes for my dear friend Debbie. (Not kidding !)
    This year our family’s valentines consisted of teeny stickers and/or tiny bookmarks, all which had to be punched out and tucked into even tinier slots. I think we covered about 65 names, including teachers, principals, aunts & uncles, brothers and anyone they had ever met.

    And yes, it was time-consuming and tedious. But both Jonah and Ben still have all their Valentines from JK, so I have to believe that they rather enjoy it. (And it’s more enjoyable for me than an evening of play-doh, that’s for sure !)

  2. 2

    Sue said,

    You’re too funny Debbie. Your perspective is eye opening. I hadn’t considered the many good points you made.
    Thing is, I love any excuse to do a craft! So out came the supplies and we went to it! It was fun to see the content of Eli’s card. Each one read “I wish you a happy valentines day. Eli”
    This was an option seeing as Eli could do the writing and I did enjoy it more than the previous years of spiderman and star wars cards.
    I love V day. It’s the one day of the year that reminds me to be more lovey the other days of the year.
    Debbie, I wish you a Happy Valentines Day. Sue 😉

  3. 3

    Wendy Stirbet said,

    I am also not one for wasting money and materials, especially if I know that on Feb 15 everything is going into the recycling. The boys make Valentines. I cut up paper into squares and the boys decorate with stamps and stickers. One big box of foam stickers has lasted us for many years now and the stamps we can use from year to year. The boys are old enough to write their own names on the Valentines. I used to be concerned if the boys made enough cards. Then I realized that no one is really counting the cards, so the boys give out as many valentines as they have made. I set aside one afternoon before Valentines and it becomes a family craft afternoon.


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