Saturday, January 24, 2015

Why Every Mother Dreads Valentine's Day

Why Every Mother Dreads Valentine's Day -- Just as we're congratulating ourselves for making it through the holidays without killing anyone, Valentine's Day sneaks up on us. And so does the horror that is making a child address valentines to every single member of his class.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}


Speaking as a mother, I can tell you with certainty that Valentine's Day is the worst.

Not because I have a problem with love, but because I have 3 elementary schoolers. And elementary schools apparently hate parents.

Because just as we're congratulating ourselves for making it through the holidays without killing anyone, just as our kids are coming down from their sugar highs and we're easing back into the routine of normal life, we find a cheerful handout in a backpack about the upcoming class valentine swap.

And we die a little inside.


The handout includes the following information:
  • T minus 3 weeks until the card swap, so get cracking.
  • Your child must address a valentine to each of the 25 students in the class (so no one ends up crying.)
  • This can be a bit overwhelming for your child, so try to write a few valentines every day until you're done.

One point of clarification: this is not an overwhelming task for my child. This is an overwhelming task for me

First of all, I'm going to need to buy these things weeks ahead of time in order for my kids to "write a few valentines every day." Obviously the teacher isn't aware of how we roll at our house.

Second of all, this requires me to go into an actual physical store. I dislike shopping and as a rule only go when we're running dangerously low on toilet paper. Even then it's on amazon.com.

But it needs to be done, so out I go into the frozen wilderness that is a New England winter to buy valentines. I can rule out a lot of the cards immediately: our school's no-candy policy means that valentines with suckers or little packets of Fun Dip are out.

(Even if it does effectively combat childhood obesity, this policy really defeats the whole point of trading valentines. To kids, Valentine's Day is like trick-or-treating in February, and our school decided to be the lame house on the block that hands out pencils.)

Lame or not, the real work comes after I become the proud owner of a box of overpriced perforated pictures of the Marvel Avengers saying clever things like, "Have a super day, Valentine!"

The kids' job is to sit at the table and write who the valentine is 'to' and 'from,' and my job is to supervise.

Which is great because I've been thinking lately that I don't do enough nagging to get them to complete tasks they find unpleasant.

If you've ever tried to cajole a kindergartner or 1st grader who doesn't like writing into addressing 25 valentines, you know exactly how this is going to go.

Between their gnat-like attention span and their fledgling hand-eye coordination, writing out a simple name like "Ava" takes at least 10 minutes.

There will be whining. There will be moping. There will be me simultaneously cleaning up a pants-wetting accident while demonstrating the difference between a 'b' and a 'd' while cooking dinner. I'm not looking forward to it.

Since there's no way my son can complete this Herculean task in a single sitting, we get to spread the joy out over multiple days. 

My two older kids are fairly self-motivated, but I still have to double-check that they got everyone on the class list, and that they alphabetized and secured the stack with a rubber band (yes, that was an actual requirement last year.)

That's 3 sets of valentines to supervise, which is more than enough to kill off my very last brain cell.

After all that work, I also know that on the morning of the big V-Day party at school, one of two things is going to happen. The kids will either:

  1. Forget their valentines on the kitchen counter, or 
  2. Remember 10 minutes before the bus comes that they were supposed to construct and decorate a mailbox for their incoming valentines. Looks like their "mailbox" is going to be a paper bag with their name written on it in Sharpie. Again.
What I really want to know is, why can't we just skip observing Valentine's Day in school and go straight to St. Patrick's Day? I can really get behind a holiday where my biggest (and only) responsibility is reminding the kids to wear something green.

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26 comments:

  1. I get your point and agree with you 100% but that line in the first paragraph: "And elementary school teachers apparently hate parents" is very glaring and remains with me through the rest of the reading even though I understand why you think that way. Doing those Valentine's Day seems pointless, is annoying, and just a rote activity. I do believe that even many teachers do not enjoy the whole concept of swapping valentines but are forced to comply. Just my thought.

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    1. No offense intended! I apologize if it came across that way.

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  2. I appreciate your apology but there is no need. The best part about blogging is "freedom of speech" and if people get offended what others write, they should not read it :) I think blogging is about expressing your opinions.

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    1. I think she was joking...

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  3. I almost peed my pants laughing!! This is great!

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  4. Wow! I didn't know that in the US kids celebrate Valentine's Day. In UK it's firmly for adults and teenagers, who may have a romantic interest in someone.
    Your writing style is great! You have certainly managed to convey what a joyous few weeks it's going to be for you ;)
    #sharewithme

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    1. I just learned that from an old Valentine's Day post at Zero Waste Home! (It's called "Will You Be My Valentine?" and it's worth Googling.)

      Anyway, I'm seriously considering moving to Europe for that reason alone.

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  5. Oh my goodness Jenny - thank heavens I don't live in America! This would be beyond my capabilities I am sure! How ridiculous though really - turning every blooming yearly celebration including Valentines into some participant event for children is too much - it's too much pressure on everyone (particularly you!) :-) Thanks so much for linking up to #thetruthabout again - I love the way you write X

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  6. Oh my!!! Never had to deal with this before. Despite all his bravado, Lucas keeps quiet about his 'girlfriends' but luckily his teacher keeps me informed. Apparently they can make cards at school but they don't have to make one for every single class member. They very best of British to you......#sharewithme

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  7. Grace says - Oh Wow - you have to make them for the whole class? I hope it goes OK and we think you're an awesome mum to do all this :0 #sharewithme

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  8. LOL I don't know if you intended this to be as funny as I found it to be. Seriously laughing over:

    "Which is great because I've been thinking lately that I don't do enough nagging to get them to complete tasks they find unpleasant."

    I used to work in childcare and I seriously would not work for a centre that "celebrated" Valentine's day because to be the teacher dealing with the swapping of 16-20 Valentines was enought to make my head explode.

    Thanks for sharing and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop!

    Wishing you a lovely day.
    xoxo

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    1. That's true, I only need to manage 3 sets of Valentines and the teachers need to manage 25!

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  9. I don't blame you! That seems like a lot of work. Would have been easier if you could just get a few trinkets and distribute them in class.

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  10. We are still having hangover from the cards from Christmas! #sharewithme

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  11. Agreed. Force me to do that more than once a quarter and you might not like what you see.

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  12. It is quite exhausting how much every holiday has been blown out of proportion, including Valentine's Day. I LOVE holidays, but it does get a bit ridiculous. Next thing we know there will be gift guides on what to buy the teachers for Valentine's Day. Actually, I'm sure such an article already exists!!

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  13. Oh Jenny, this is FABULOUS! This reminds me of 'the good 'ol days' when all my kids were young....This article is spot on and hilarious, to those of us who are not in the throws of the Valentine love-hate relationship. Thanks for the laugh. Carrie, A Mother's Shadow

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  14. Hhaha Jenny this is amazing I love it and so true. I will be right behind you with two in school soon and I dread to think I have to force them to write out valentine's day cards to everyone who will just go home and thrown my money and the kids hard work in the trash eventually. lol Silly old holiday. I am with you let's do St patrick and wear green. That's fun and easy for us all! Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

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    1. It's pretty silly, isn't it? I often think about trying to explain a tradition like this to an alien, and how ridiculous it would sound.

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  15. Ha! This is too funny! Though I don't know that madness, I can only imagine. Then again, we might end up being the 1 family that opts out of crazy stuff like this filled with expectations and sugar overload. But that's just us! :)

    Stopping by from Mommy Monday!

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  16. Oh wow! In the UK valentines isn't really a big thing amongst schools I'm so glad of that now!
    AliceMegan

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  17. Ok so I did consider for about 2 seconds writing this without a name, then I said heck no!!!! OK, I so get what you are saying and at the time with the oldest who is now 17 I did not have the time or patience for the melt downs.... Main reason was because back then I worked 13 to 15 hour days and I wanted to spend good hours with her. So I became apt at writing like a K through about 3rd grade :) No harm no foul.... She is 17 now and is fine ;) But I wrote those darn things out. Years later I admitted this to a group of girlfriends, and you know what???? Holy cow we all did it at one time or another... Sooooooo..... We won't tell!!!! ;)

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    1. You know, I'm ashamed to say that I never even thought of just doing it myself. My life could have been so much easier all these years if I'd just talked to you sooner...

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  18. HAHAHA!! This was hilarious!!! Okay, don't hate me BUT I'm a sucker for Valentine's Day. You're right the no candy policy on Valentine's Day is kind of lame, I get it, but still lame.
    Thanks for sharing with us at Mommy Monday!
    XOXO

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  19. Jenny, I have the solution for you! Next year (since it's already too late to save THIS year), buy the Valentine's on clearance, and have your kids only write from and their name. A couple a day over the summer. Forget the to!! when I taught Kg, that's what we did. And just had the kids go round, and drop one in everyone's bag! Just, good luck with finding them again in FEb!! lol

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    1. Thanks for the tip! I did do that a few years ago, back when I was smart. I'll try to remember it for next year.

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