Valentine’s Day is almost upon us so this week will be filled with kids joyfully bringing cards to and from school and parents fretting in the background.
STOP WORRYING. I don’t care if you went to a big-box store or crafted at home twenty-five times. Have fun. Show love. I hope you included your kids in at least the first dozen cards, and if they couldn’t participate and they’re over the age of four, you probably picked the wrong cards. Note it for next year and let it go.
But the best way to not worry about Valentine’s Day cards? Don’t judge the cards your kids get. BECAUSE YOU’RE WRONG.
If my kid hands your kid a store-bought card, you better believe he walked up and down the aisle for twenty minutes trying to choose the best card for his classmates whom he adores. You should picture him carefully separating all thirty-two cards with the same care they open and clean the FabergÃ© Eggs in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. Finally, he sat down and wrote his name over and over adding special stickers with joy and love. Those are very loved cards from my son even if your child gets the design three more times.
If my other kid hands your kid a handmade card, you can picture me brainstorming how she, not me, can make a card as she’s only 3 years old and shocked me by turning up her nose at every option in the store. The cards she created aren’t based on Pinterest because they are her cards so every sticker was carefully selected and placed in a particular order understood only to her and not altered by any adult. Every word was dictated since my daughter cannot yet write and only slightly tweaked to make a little sense for the card reader. Most cards are wordless beyond her name.
More importantly, you should know that my kids and I go through every card after the school’s Valentine’s Day party and read each one out loud. My children smile and laugh and admire the ones with cartoon characters as much as the ones clearly made by 35-year-old moms with scrapbooks. They aren’t more impressed with one or the other and neither am I.
So don’t tell me that either card means more. Handmade or homemade does not express more love or sincerity. It can just as easily express pride and vanity and the desire to one-up a neighbor, friend or classmate. Some children are not able to write their names in a small spaces twenty-five times or to express themselves visually or have any interest in doing so without fighting all afternoon. Do their Valentine cards have less value because a parent chooses to let a child express him or herself in another way or on another day instead of expressing a current cultural trend, which DIY over store-bought is?
Of course not. The fanciest stamped and crocheted cards and the popstar of the week cards make my family’s hearts full because we let them both in. My kids are just happy to see their friends’ names on the card.
So thank you. Thank you to the parents who take the time to help their children find Valentine’s cards that play to their kids’ strengths whatever those may be. I trust you to find it, and we’ll love whatever Valentine’s Day cards you choose.
A particular person may feel like this post is directed towards her; however, I have seen this concept implied quite a bit and finally wrote about it. The timing may not feel that way, and for this, I am sorry.