Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine’s Day – Cards, Candy and Love

“Mom, I’m tired of writing my name,” whines my six-year old.  “Can you do it?”

I’m sitting at my kitchen table with my four kids, surrounded by a hundred Valentine's cards.  Literally – 100.  That’s twenty-five for each child’s class.  My youngest child, who is in preschool, has no idea what Valentine’s Day is for… but he understands that the pencils that we are giving to his classmates has Toy Story characters on them… and he wants them all. 

“Mine!” he proclaims while stuffing them into a grocery bag.  “My pencils!”  

So, I explain patiently that they are for his friends at school for Valentine’s Day.  He pauses, looks up at me while I speak to him, and then promptly goes back to stashing away his precious pencil collection.  After some negotiation, he is satisfied with two pencils for himself and giving the rest to his friends.

Then I look over to my four-year old who is trying very hard to write her name on all the cards.  She has managed to fit the first three letters of her name in the blank spot next to the “From:” line, but has consistently run out of space for the last two letters of her name.  So… she just writes them in wherever she has space on the card. Oh well, at least she’s writing!  Hopefully, her classmates can figure out that it’s from her. 

I don’t know about your kids, but mine don’t actually notice who the cards are from.  They just dig through their Valentines’ bags for the goodies and then toss the rest aside.

Valentine’s Day is the holiday to celebrate love.  Some believe that the origin of the holiday dates back to the Middle Ages. 

I have memories of excitedly opening my decorated bag to find the cards inside.  Back when I was in school, it was mostly cards.  Treats were just an occasional thing.  My favorite one was the little box of chalky sugar hearts with phrases like “BE MINE” stamped on them.  They are still a classic today.  Pure sugar… wow.

Elementary and preschools are usually good about making sure that every child gets something on Valentine’s Day.  If you are creative, it’s a great time to get your child involved with making cards for their friends.  They can learn important skills such as coloring, cutting, gluing, taping, and writing.  Plus it helps them to feel good about giving their classmates something that they’ve created.

As your child gets older and Valentine’s celebrations no longer involve making crafts and decorating bags and boxes, you may want to consider making Valentine’s Day a special day for the family.

Pre-teens and adolescents may find Valentine’s Day somewhat stressful if their friends have started dating.  In order to prevent your child from feeling lonely, left out or pressured about Valentine’s Day, try to make it a celebration about love in general.  Valentine’s parties and decorations, special family meals, and love notes from you can make any child feel special and create a fun atmosphere for this special day. 

As with Halloween and Easter, the candy quota from this holiday can be pretty intense.  Try to limit the amount of sugar your kids eat on a single day and set a date after which you toss the rest or take it somewhere else were other people can enjoy it.  (But of course, the good chocolate gets put in a special hiding place for parents only.) 

Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!  Thanks for reading!