I tasked the children’s father with the annual Selecting Of The Valentines for the kids this year, in part because I hadn’t gotten around to it and he had them with him this weekend, and in part because the entire exercise makes me want to shove sharp pencils into my eyeballs.
When it’s up to me, we go to the Dollar Store and have a choice of maybe six different kinds of cards. When the children whine that they want something that isn’t there, I try to look sympathetic. Then I tell them to hurry up and pick because we have to go get groceries.
The REAL stores have entire WALLS of valentines cards, though, and because Daddy is much nicer than Mama, the kids got to pick just what they wanted.
At the Dollar Store, the cards all just fold in half and seal with a sticker or maybe just a little cardboard tab. There’s a TO: line and a FROM: line and that’s all we have to fill out. But out in the real world, man, there’s a billion different character sets to choose from and dozens of different formats. Some have envelopes! Some come with candy! Others have stickers! The set Monkey came home with has TATTOOS! (Because nothing says “I dig you” like slapping a cartoon puppy on your arm.)
One year I talked Monkey into a set of scratch-n-sniff Shrek valentines. I don’t know if they make them anymore, even, because these were VERY special cards. They were—brace yourself—OGRE SCENTED. I kid you not. I have no idea how these ended up at the Dollar Store, because ogres smell exactly like butt. And what little boy doesn’t want to give everyone cards that smell like that?
No matter what the cards, of course there are four or so different sayings on them, and then comes the second wave of torture. Assuming that you’ve survived the actual SELECTION of the cards (“I want the Care Bears. No, the Hello Kitty ones. No. Wait. I can’t deciiiiiiiiide!”), now you have to supervise the sitting down with the class list and deciding who gets which card. And you don’t want the wrong kid getting the wrong card. Oh no. Maybe one of the peppy little “I like you lots! I’ll share my tater tots!” lines would cause an international incident if given to a BOY when deemed appropriate only for GIRLS. Or vice versa. Oh, it’s complicated.
This year, I see Chickadee really settling into the beginning of what I think of as the Girl Wars. She’s doing alright—better than I expected, actually, in part due to having been precocious enough to go through a bit of this in previous years, already—but let’s face it: girls are little bitches to each other, and not many of them outgrow it, either. She is mastering staying away from the girls with whom problems tend to occur, but she definitely has her opinions about some of the other girls in the class. And of course, boys are still icky, so she stays as far away from ALL of them as she can.
In contrast, Monkey loves EVERYONE, male and female alike. Some of his classmates find him less than desirable, I’d imagine, owing to his penchant for completely spazzing out over what appears to be absolutely nothing… but in his mind, all the kids are wonderful and must necessarily see him in the same way.
So Chickadee is wary of sending a “too nice” message to a boy (gross), or a message that appears to be too fawning to a girl she wants to see her as cool. Monkey is only concerned about getting everyone’s cards exactly right in a way that will express how much he loves each and every one of them.
I’m guessing it’ll only take us about ten hours to get all of the cards done.
Me, I don’t much care for any of the cutesy messages in any of their cards. I think that if you’re going to acknowledge a manufactured holiday like this, you should say what you mean. Seriously, is there any other day of the year when it’s so clearly sanctioned to speak from the heart?
Here is but a small sampling of a few ideas I came up with for the kids to distribute.
Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
You have glittery pens,
Please can I have at least two?
Valentine, your mom let you get your ears pierced!
That’s really cool. My mom sucks.
This Valentine’s Day, I just wanted to tell you…
I don’t care about your stupid secret club.
And for Monkey:
Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
Sometimes I fret,
because you made my feet wet.
Valentine, I think you’re nifty!
Here’s a cute picture of a puppy and I’ll try not to call you a stupidhead today.
Will you be my Valentine?
Check yes if you’re hungry. I never eat my lunch.
My kids are so lucky to have a mom who’s a writer.