My youngest child just started middle school, so we’re done with classroom Valentines. But I’ve still got a soft spot for them.
I remember how fun it was to get a box full of valentines from my classmates, and how I couldn’t wait to read and re-read them all, especially the one from the boy I secretly loved. Did he write “From” or “Love”? What did his handwriting say about his inner nature? I kept these details in mind when writing out my own cards as well (only beloved friends and crushes got “Love, Asha.”)
I bring this up because it’s easy to forget that our kids feel things about the giving and receiving of classroom valentines. Unlike Halloween, which is basically a candy haul, the annual pageantry of classroom valentines plugs into our kids’ hearts; their friendships, their glimmers-of-crushes, their mentors.
(Do boxed valentines still include a special, bigger card for the teacher? I loved that as a kid.)
I wish I had remembered this during my kids’ early years when I resented classroom valentines as just one more thing to do. But as my kids got older, it got easier. Watching them write out their valentines brought my own memory back into focus.
I stopped worrying about the valentines themselves (homemade or store-bought? candy or no?). One year, my daughter made her valentines out of folded-over index cards. No pink or red, no hearts, just a little Sharpie-d cartoon portrait and note to each friend. They were perfect, because they were hers.
(I also keep my “fake, commercial holiday” grumpiness to myself. My husband and I aren’t into Valentine’s Day, but that’s no reason to ruin everyone’s fun.)
I invite you to consider this as you head into classroom valentine season with your kids.
- Take a breath, keep it simple (if that’s what you and they enjoy), or go to town with craft projects and glitter and stickers (if that’s what you and they enjoy).
- Try not to let the deluge of Valentine’s Day craft ideas bog you down.
- Let your kids write out two or three cards per day (with help, if necessary) so the job never feels too overwhelming.
Then sit back and, when Valentine’s Day comes, watch it unfold for your kids.
Photo credit: Melanie Edwards/Flickr cc