I was already feeling a little put out about Valentine's Day for the kids. All three of them had parties at school, which mean getting Valentine's (or Valentine's-makings), and getting them to make them. In our house, "making" Valentine's means writing From and To on a store-bought chintzy little fold-over thing with some stickers inside it, closing it, and tucking an extra sticker inside.
For Katrina, it's even simpler -- according to her, girls can't draw Ks, so she wouldn't even write K on the "From" part of her valentine's. And for (private) preschool, they're not supposed to address the "To:", nor bring food. I did her Valentine's, and this was pretty fast and easy.
But for regular (public) school, Valentine's is a big deal. Teachers send home a list of all names in the class, since if a child wants to pass out valentines, it must be to the whole class. Parents are reminded that the child has to bring in their class valentines. Kids make valentines for the parents in school. On the big day, the class has a party.
That's already out of control. Getting the valentines -- never mind making them -- is an errand that eats up precious time for working parents. Getting the boys to do them was another big pain. Julian didn't mind it, but he still needed supervision and help. Gabriel refused altogether at first, but pulled off a quick effort last night.
But tonight, I couldn't believe how much candy and junk food the boys both came home with from the party and valentine's exchange. It was stunning. A valentine isn't just a card now -- it's a bag filled with popcorn, cookies and candy; it's a box of chocolate basketballs, a box of candy hearts, a brownie, Kit-Kats, chocolate hearts and lollipops. I'm sure Gabriel and Julian's crummy little sticker went over well.
I hate to sound like a love scrooge, but the effort of getting valentine's and getting the boys to do them was already enough of a pain. But when they come home with heaps of candy and crap, it almost teeters on being a problem.
I'd like Valentine's Day to go back to being a personal thing, in which you make and give someone a Valentine because you really want to tell them something -- not a serious sugar haul that's built into the school curriculum. But what kind of curmudgeon dares suggest to an elementary school that they stop celebrating a day that's supposed to celebrate love?