I spent twenty minutes last Sunday afternoon on a mad dash through my local Target, looking for Valentines for my kids to give out to their classmates. For the record, running through Target like you’re a contestant on Supermarket Sweep, with your husband chasing after you and yelling things like, “are you done yet? The Super Bowl starts in twenty minutes. Are you done yet?” is not all that conducive to a pleasant and efficient shopping experience. But nonetheless, I escaped with several dozen bags of candy, some cellophane-ish baggies with red twist ties, two packs of make-your-own Valentines for the girls in her class, and another pack of pre-made, Indiana Jones Valentines for the boys. And we still arrived at my mother-in-law’s with three minutes to spare before kickoff. [Insert double fist pump here].
While my husband and the other guys watched the game and pounded their chests and acted like guys, my daughter and I spread out on the dining room table to assemble the make-your-own Valentines for her girlfriends. If you read my post last year , you might recall that I think Valentine’s Day is Stupid with a capital S. To summarize, I think it is Stupid to a) spend twice the amount of money on flowers and dinner as these things cost on any other day of the year, and b) give your children copious amounts of candy that will rot their teeth, just so that your spouse/children will know that you love them. May I suggest that you tell your spouse/children that you love them on a daily basis, and do away with this holiday entirely, as I have. Well, not entirely, because it seems that in order to be accepted into mainstream society, your child must present Valentines, accompanied by copious amounts of candy, to all of the children in his or her class. Which means that I must go to Target on Superbowl Sunday to buy them, because I learned last year that if you wait until the day before, all of the good Valentines are gone, and your child will then throw a huge tantrum about the fact that she has to dole out Sponge Bob Squarepants and Scooby Doo Valentines to all of her friends.
Which brings me back to where I left me and my daughter; sitting at my mother-in-law’s dining room table during the Super Bowl, making pink and purple Valentines with all kinds of lovely, heart and flower embellishments, which very obviously did not come from the Target clearance aisle. She put a lot of thought into decorating these cards, my daughter did, and she tailored each one to the girl she was making it for. Pink is so and so’s favorite color, so she got a pink card with pink rhinestones, and so and so loves purple and she loves hearts, so she got a purple card with lots of hearts on it, etcetera and so forth. But when we got to ______, a girl who shall remain nameless, my daughter stopped cold. I don’t like her, she announced. This was true. She doesn’t like her. Frankly, I don’t like her either. This is the girl who decided that my daughter’s favorite, pink, over-sized, movie star sunglasses were unacceptable, and somehow convinced several of the other girls in her class to not talk to my daughter if she wears them. So now she refuses to wear them, despite the fact that she is half vampire and hates having her eyes exposed to bright sunlight.
I know you don’t like her, I answered. But you still have to give her a Valentine. If you give to one girl, you have to give to them all. She countered with the fact that all of the Valentines said things like, I Love You, and Best Friends, and Be Mine, and that if she gave this particular girl a card that said any of those things, it would be lying. At which point I gave her a quick synopsis of my opinion of Valentine’s Day, which is, as you know, that it is Stupid, and for precisely this reason. Fake sentiments. Obligatory statements of love. I mean, why should kids have to give other kids cards expressing their fondness for each other? Isn’t it a bit premature? Isn’t it all a bit much? Happily, she agreed with me, but conceded that she did like getting the candy.
Okay, I said. Then you have a choice to make. You can either make this girl a card, and participate in Valentine’s Day and all of its hypocrisy, or, you can opt out, and not give cards to anyone this year. You know, take a stand. Be an individual. Don’t compromise your principles. Put your big pink sunglasses back on, damn it.
She thought about it for half a second. Nah, she said, reaching for a card that said, “I Heart U” on the cover, and writing ________’s name on it. That would just be weird, mom. Right, I answered. Of course it would.