Monday, February 4, 2013

Valentine's Day Anxiety

As recently as two years ago, it was completely acceptable and commonplace for kids to give store-bought princess or superhero cards to their friends on Valentine's Day. This suited me just fine, for two reasons. First, I'm not crafty. I like to color - inside the pre-determined lines of coloring books ONLY - but creating anything artsy is a strange kind of torture for me. Second, Will and Hallie couldn't care less about the actual cards they receive at their school Valentine's Day parties. They care about the goodies - red lollipops, heart-shaped erasers, and miniature tubs of Playdoh - that accompany the cards, but the cards themselves are just a means to transport the goodies from the giver to the recipient. When my kids come home from school on Valentine's Day, they empty their decorated-with-stickers-and-red-crayon paper bags onto the living room rug, sort through the bags' contents, beg to eat the candy, and toss the cards in the recycling bin in the garage.

That was before Pinterest.

Pinterest is lovely, don't get me wrong. I've found quite a few delicious recipes, great ideas for home decorating, and inspirational quotes on Pinterest. But Pinterest is also causing me a great deal of anxiety, specifically when it comes to Valentine's Day.

Last January my mom friends began pinning pictures of adorable and clever homemade Valentine's Day cards to their "Kids", "Crafting", and "Holidays" boards. Under each picture was a lovely description of the card, usually something like "Use corrugated cardboard and a wine cork to craft abstract rose-print Valentine's Day cards! Can't wait to try this for little Susie's preschool friends!" There are so many things wrong with those sentences...even if you LOVE to craft, do you - as a parent - really have time to create elaborate abstract rose-print Valentine's Day cards for your PRESCHOOLER'S classmates?! I'm actually asking. Do you have time? If you do, please tell me what I'm doing wrong because most days I barely have time to brush my teeth.

Last year, in response to the intense pressure placed on my shoulders by Pinterest, I decided to step up my Valentine's Day game: instead of giving out store-bought cards and candy, the kids and I actually made all of their cards and goodies ourselves. (It was nothing terribly complicated, so please, hold your applause.) First, I cut hearts out of pink and purple construction paper, drizzled the hearts with glue, and let the kids glitter the daylights out of each one. When the glue was dry we wrote "to" and "from" on the backs of the hearts. Second, instead of candy, we made heart-shaped crayons. Making heart-shaped crayons sounded like an easy project when I first read the instructions on Pinterest, and in all fairness, the project was easy (although time-consuming)...once the wrappers had been stripped off the crayons. I estimate that I peeled wrappers off of more than 200 crayons (Valentine's Day goody bags for 35 children, two heart-shaped crayons per child, three regular crayons per heart-shaped crayon) and by the time I finished - three days later - my fingernails and cuticles were ruined and my fingertips were actually bleeding. My hands looked like I'd stuck them into the drain of the sink while the garbage disposal was running.

So this year, instead of caving to the Pinterest pressure (which is even more intense now than it was a year ago), I'm going the store-bought route once again. I purchased six Valentine's Day card kits, and with the kids' help I'm going to miraculously turn the kits' contents into little robot and heart-shaped boxes and fill the boxes with candy. The hardest part of the process - I hope - will be keeping the kids from sneaking the candy into their mouths while I'm hard at work on the boxes.

In conclusion, please don't expect my children to distribute Valentine's Day cards shaped like cupid and made of lace and embellished with faux flowers and covered in French sayings of love written in calligraphy. Also, please don't spend a great deal of time on the Valentine's Day cards that will end up in my children's hands. I promise to admire your work, but my kids won't, and soon after ripping off that cherry-flavored Tootsie Roll Pop, your card will be in the recycling bin.

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