Halt! Take this card for Valentine’s Day!

I was reading the preschool newsletter at 9 p.m. last night because there are a number of school-free days coming up and I wanted to make sure I had them marked down in my calendar. That’s when I noticed the bit about Valentine’s day cards.

If you wish to bring Valentine cards, medicine please do so on these days. Plan an extra minute to help your child deliver them into our special “mailboxes.”

My stomach dropped.

I don’t know why this didn’t occur to me. I guess I thought in this day and age of political correctness we had done away with Valentine’s Day cards because of the risk of feelings being hurt? Or something that waited until they could actually write their own name. Either way – I didn’t think of it and this morning – the day to deliver the cards into their special “mailboxes” – we didn’t have anything to deliver.  Moira’s face dropped. I explained to her that I didn’t know they were doing this and that we could do it next year (and, cardiologist on the plus side, she was still going to get a mailbox full of cards). Which she did.

This is what she got:

  • 1. Dora the Explorer card
  • 1. Hello Kitty card
  • 1. Strawberry Shortcake card
  • 1. Winnie-the-Pooh card
  • 1. Transformer’s card (Moira’s reaction: this is scary although I think I heard her telling her Daddy later in the day that it was a troll and she seemed okay with it.)
  • 1. Star Wars Stormtrooper card (because nothing says love like a stormtrooper pointing a gun at you saying “Halt! Take this card for Valentine’s Day!)
  • 1. Toy Story card
  • 1. scratch & sniff vanilla cupcake card (the only non-trademark card in the bunch).
  • And, of course, 5 Disney Princess cards.

Let’s count the number of homemade cards…



Yup. Zero. Oh and three red suckers which, I mean, really? RED suckers? Why not just give her crack? (I did let her eat one though – I’m not as mean as I may sound. And then she not-so-quietly sobbed throughout quiet time and she couldn’t even tell me why.)

So yes, I’m that mother. The one who won’t let trademarked characters into the house if she can help it. The one who sneers at the Disney Princesses.  The one who thinks watching one show a month is plenty for a 3-year old.

The one who doesn’t even consider that they are exchanging Valentines in preschool.

I know some of you are laughing at this but I’m okay with that. Sometimes I feel like our value system is so out of alignment with the rest of the people we meet. Often I have to take a deep breath and let go of the reigns a bit (although when I think of the marketing machine that is the Disney Princesses I do feel physically ill). It would be enough to make me want to homeschool except that I can’t make the girls live in a bubble – and I know enough to know that Moira and I spending all day, every day together until she is 18 is really not a good idea. At least next year I will know what is coming – and we will make our own Valentine’s Day cards. By then she will be able to sign her own name.

  18 Replies to “Halt! Take this card for Valentine’s Day!”

  1. February 14, 2012 at 6:08 am

    Oh, man. You have just told my story of Bonnie’s first Valentine’s Day at preschool *exactly,* with the exception that I found out about the card exchange when picking her up at 5:00 the evening before. I had to call a friend to drive us somewhere to buy cards, and then *I* threw a temper tantrum in the aisle when I couldn’t find a single pack that wasn’t related to a tv show or movie (most of which we had never even heard of). In the end we bought a pack of construction paper, stayed up way too late cutting out some heart shapes, and she wrote “B” on them in crayon. It was like a crazy, insecure-single-mom-driven sweatshop. There was one other kid who gave out homemade card – and her mom is a friend of mine with the same feelings on the whole commercial Valentine’s thing. It would *never* have occurred to me that three-year-olds would have a sweet clue what Valentine’s Day is… in fact, I don’t think they did. I think it was strictly a case of parents looking for an excuse to send in loot bags (I’m serious… there were loot bags… you got off easy with three lollypops). It’s weird alpha-mom behaviour and it boggles my mind. 5 years later Bonnie is *still* making her own cards (with the exception of one year when we found some retro-style, non-tv-related cards that were too cute to pass up). I would say that about 1/4 of her classmates make their cards, too, these days, since she goes to a bit of an arty school, but I know she’ll be wired on sugar by the time she comes home. I’m preparing some soothing, tonic, vegetarian borscht for supper – the pink is adequately thematic and the veggies will soothe her rattled, sugary nerves.

    • February 14, 2012 at 1:39 pm

      You know, I had a moment where I thought: “I should make some Valentine’s cards right now!” but then I went to bed. I just couldn’t give in to the pressure. I mentioned it to one mom in the morning and she said, “can you run out now and buy some?” Um, no.

      • Wood Cutter
        February 14, 2012 at 7:54 pm

        lulz @ alpha mom

  2. Amanda
    February 14, 2012 at 7:45 am

    Thomas came home, no school list, and some vague idea that something was going to happen at school tomorrow. When I tried to get specifics from him, he just sighed and said “I know about as much as Sam does”…its a reference to his older teenage brother, meaning he doesn’t have a clue. Therefore, out the door this am with NO valentines cards. Last year in grade 2 he came home with enough candy and loot you would have thought he went out for Halloween…
    cheer up! my Sam asked if he could have the day off…seriously… as his girlfriend (who is 15 and could pass for a disney princess) is staying home today to make dinner for him…what the #*@!! kinda parenting message is that!!!

  3. Anne B.
    February 14, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Tis crazy, and while I like the idea of home made cards, or the old style ones we used to give out with no commercials on them, candy is not for Valentine’s Day in my book. Except maybe chocolate, but that is my book! Stick to what you believe in, and don’t care about the other families.

  4. February 14, 2012 at 8:20 am

    The whole thing really worries me. (Well, okay, everything but the scratch and sniff cupcake card – that one I kind of want, as my childhood fondness for scratch and sniff stickers continues.)

    I read the anti-Cinderella book you recommended, and it really, really resonated with me. But it made me very aware of how much I’ll need to think about and deal with should this baby be a girl baby. Not that you don’t have just as many issues with boys – it’s just the Disney Princess machine etc scares me on a personal level. We will likely let the kid watch more tv that you guys have chosen, but one thing we’re both pretty firm on is not letting them watch cable – the commercials on kids channels make me twitch from over-stimulation as an adult!

  5. Johanna
    February 14, 2012 at 9:50 am

    My kids are now 17, 14 and 11. Girl, boy, boy. When they were little I tried ever so hard to keep them away from violent tv shows. Not likeing the messages they sent.
    It’s out there. You can’t sheild your children from it ever. But you can talk about it to them, with them.
    What I have learned, and am still learning, is that communication is key. There are bad things out there, scary bad. By the time they hit those teenage years you have to hope and trust that you have instilled an open communiction system for them. That they will come talk to you when they run into these scary things.
    Kids pick up on evey signal you give out, and they react to it.
    The more anxious and upset you are about something, even if you act like everythings okay, they will pick up on. Beleive me I know.
    When my daughter started dating at 15 and wanted to go on birth control I agreed but I also talked to her trying hard to express what my experinces had been. She listened even though she didn’t understand really. When they broke up 1.5 years later she told me she was glad that she listened to me, that they didn’t do anything serious. I can’t tell you how relieved and proud I am of her.
    It’s a similar thing for the boys too. They see violence in every tv show, video game ect. And just because you don’t let them watch, play at your house doesn’t mean they won’t at a friends house.
    My 14 year old had a friend arrested for selling drugs at school. How scary is that. I spent some time talking to him and he knew and realized how serious it all was and was already distancing himself from that person before any of that happened. Again I can’t express how proud I am of him.
    I know these two examples are far removed from being 3 years old but it was at this early stage that we began the communication, not that we planned it just that it happened along in that way. My husband is much more laid back than I am and he laid the groundwork for it all.
    He would take turns and every night he would sit and chat with one of them for about a half hour or so, about anything and everything. When they hit preteen it pettered out as they didn’t want to talk anymore BUT they do go to him when they have troubles (more than to me and I am a bit jelous).
    I guess what I’m saying is you can’t avoid it. But you can talk through it.
    I know this has been rather rambly and I hope your not offended, just expressing what has been my experiance.

  6. February 14, 2012 at 10:51 am

    When I brought up to my husband that we should make some V-day cards for a few people with our daughter his response was “but Valentines Day is for people in love”. I don’t know if it is general feeling over here or just one by my husband, but I love the idea that you don’t give out Valentines to every body you know. Mind you, if it is a general feeling, my child minder is going to really think we are weird. Whatever, she probably already does.

  7. February 14, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Amelia made homemade Valentines for each of the 24 kids in her class (fun craft she did with her Grandma last week). Although there was no note home from school, I figured that at least some of the other kids would make or bring in Valentines, right?

    Apparently I was wrong. Only one other kid in her class brought in (Disney Princess) Valentines. Maybe it’s not a thing in Quebec?

    Anyway, I completely agree about the cartoon/Disney/TV/movie trademarked junk. How hard is it really to use some construction paper and glue? Or some heart stickers and index cards?

    I think I’m that mom too.

  8. February 14, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    I love that some mom had the nerve to ask if you could go out and buy some right then! Also, as always, I love that you are parenting with specific intentions.

  9. February 14, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    I’m completely with you – the whole thing is ludicrous, it’s making me angry just thinking about being put in that position.

    First, being expected to go buy a bunch of paper crap because every other parent will do it? Of course, you could make them, but how time consuming just to make a point.

    Second, I hate the idea of giving a bunch of non-personal cards just because you are expect to, to fit in.

    I really don’t know what I’d do in this situation, I wouldn’t want my kid to feel left out, at an age not old enough to understand all these underlying issues. I guess you have to choose your battles… glad it worked out ok with Moira this year though!

  10. amy
    February 14, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    What interesting comments. I have enjoyed reading this today. I guess I don’t understand the intensity against valentine cards. When I taught grade four, I made the students make brown bag mailboxes that we taped to the side of the desks. I listened as the children would thank one another for their cards I watched as the girls would blush when they received a card from their crush. I don’t know, it felt like a right of passage to me. I like it.

  11. February 15, 2012 at 11:33 am

    We love Valentines cards at our house! They’re a fabulous excuse to put stuff in the mail (and it also means you receive some– our mailbox was comfortably full yesterday). I look upon store-bought Valentines as the kid version of stationary, so I get the attraction. Homemade cards are nice in theory but I’m not big on crafting and Harriet lacks the attention span. I just think it’s a nice ritual to have at dark time of year and in a society where rituals are few and far between. You can also throw out (recycle) the offensive Princess Valentines and the use the rest to play mailbox at home with a cardboard box. And at least they’re not plastic.

  12. February 15, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    My boys handmade a few cards to give out to relatives and friends, and received mostly handmade ones in return. They know it’s a day for “sweeties” to give things to one another, in general, but we also play it as a day to cherish our friends and show our appreciation with kindness/treats. 🙂 I didn’t get them chocolates myself, but planned on a cake for the whole family for dessert (didn’t get to it, was v. nauseated all day, boo!) but they received Kinder eggs from Grandma, and these sweet handmade crocheted red/cream envelopes with red button closures (card inside, with chocolate hearts) from an honourary G’ma. I was pretty satisfied, but other years I’ve put a bit more effort into it on our own end and made the boys little cards with a treat. On a picky note, PLEASE stop saying things like “keep the girls in a bubble” in relation to homeschooling. 🙂 It’s a pet peeve of mine that people who don’t homeschool have this notion at all! 🙂

  13. February 15, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    Sorry Michelle, I don’t actually think homeschoolers live in a bubble. In fact, Calgary has a really great homeschooling community and it is very active. People are often telling me I can’t make the girls live in a bubble and so the two ended up in the same sentence when I don’t really mean it. I, personally, don’t think not letting the girls watch TV or attend every birthday party or function they are invited to or refusing to sign them up for soccer (I got a lot of weird looks about that one) and making them have a quiet time every single day is making them live in a bubble (really – they are 3 and under!) but other people seem to think so. 🙂

  14. February 16, 2012 at 10:40 am

    That’s ok mama..I’m that mother too. 🙂 We made salt dough heart necklaces and passed them out at ballet class…They each ate a red lolly too…then they ran around in circles…seriously…

  15. February 16, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    No worries, I wasn’t offended, I just cringe a bit when there’s any hint of that stereotype thrown around. We get the bubble thing not for homeschooling, but from my extended family who think it weird my kids don’t listen to mainstream radio (my 8 yr old nephew sings Lady Gaga songs, I find it disturbing. Disco stick, anyone?) and that we actually screen content of movies no matter if they are kid-marketed or what. Etc, etc. 🙂

  16. February 18, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    I think it’s okay for you to say whatever you like on your blog.

    I have a coworker who has been out on sick leave for a while with cancer, and instead of circulating a card for people to sign for her, I went out in search of valentine cards for everybody to sign – the kind that the kids give each other in school. It was a bit of a surprise to discover that they’re all connected to television and movies…I could only find one set that wasn’t, and they were labelled ‘vintage.’ I ended up buying the Transformers ones, GI Joe, some weird looking kid that seemed to have a massively oversized head, and Spongebob Squarepants. And the so-called vintage ones.

    We still had fun writing the cards for her…but it did seem very schlocky, commercial-wise. I wouldn’t have wanted to have bought them for a kid.

    (though now that the project is done, I have a ton of leftover valentines. So if you change your mind about over-marketed products and rampant commercialization and commodification of childhood, please let me know and I will happily send them your way. There were even stickers(tm)!)

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