February 13, 2009

Bring on the Crapola, Baby!

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:48 am by the Green-Eyed Siren

Short and to the point, re: children’s valentine creation supervision: I used to be  Martha Stewart. Now I’m Henry Ford.

We used to do fancy homemade valentines. I figured, hey! It’s a project! Woo-hoo! Where’s the construction paper? I would dive in, all enthusiasm, but would quickly find myself losing my composure:

No, wait, that should go here…and don’t do it like that, do it this way…stop! No…like this…oh, all right, that’s fine, but be sure to at least…wait! Too much glitter glue! No no no no…uh, well, yeah, maybe, but please use the red marker…No! Not the brown one! Yes, I know brown is your favorite color but…yes, OK, that’s fine, whatever. It will be fine…wait! No, the heart stickers, not the Thomas stickers! But…it’s Valentine’s Day….

Yes, honey. They’re beautiful.

This went on for years. And while I didn’t exactly do the Superior Mom dance when the kids came home with everyone else’s store-bought valentines, I did allow myself to take some satisfaction in knowing I had given them an experience and not just more commercial crapola.

But not this year. This year, it’s an All-Crapola Valentine’s Day!

With Unfocused Junior suffering from the stomach plague that’s sweeping the nation (to judge from reports I’m getting from far-flung Facebook friends), I am feeling like a Super Genius for advance-purchasing the Kung Fu Panda valentines and the Keith Kimberlin kitten sticker puzzle valentines and the valentine treat envelopes and the valentine notepads and the valentine puzzle games and the valentine stickers. This morning Unfocused Girl speedily addressed her envelopes while I speedily stuffed them; ten minutes and she was off for school. I am happy to report that she is not traumatized by this year’s lack of a major valentine assembly event. Unfocused Junior was always a more reluctant valentine-making participant, so he’s unlikely to be bringing this particular issue to his future therapist.

Actually, he’s sitting here now, missing the party taking place at school right at this moment, and he’s just fine (and feeling much better today, fortunately). He’s stuffing those envelopes, happy as can be—first a Kung Fu Panda valentine, then a notepad, then a puzzle, then a sticker—saying, “This is going to be so lovely. Everyone will love it. They will love their valentines!” In truth, he’s much happier than he ever was when they were such a big production. It’s just much more manageable for him, and the fact that I’m not stressing out must be a plus. It’s a good reminder to myself that sometimes an experience is just what you make of it.



  1. freshhell said,

    Yeah, I learned to butt out of the process a while back and I must say, it helps all around. The way it worked this year: Dusty made her own, all by herself with whatever supplies she wanted to use. She cut out 17 hearts from red or pink construction paper, lined them with glitter glue and decorated them with various stickers. Then a TO and a FROM and she was done.

    With Red, since she can’t write yet and would have exploded if I’d tried to get her to write at least her name 20 times, I purchased the princess (generic not D1sney) valentines which came with tatoos. Red’s big on tatoos. She helped put on the heart stickers and I filled them out for the class.

    Done for another year.

  2. freshhell, well done. I applaud both your efforts and your restraint.

    I should clarify that I am not trying to diss my many talented friends who are successfully managing the homemade valentine project; on the contrary, I have for you the profound respect that can only come from having shared the experience. It’s just that I can’t help but feel relieved that I appear not to have traumatized my children by doing cheap store-bought valentines this year. I beat myself up for parental failings on such a regular basis that I couldn’t stomach having to put this in that category too.

  3. freshhell said,

    Oh, I know where you’re coming from, believe me. I have given up all my lofty crafty ideas. Dusty’s kind of forced my hand – she has her own ideas and they’re always better than mine. And Red is simply too stubborn. So, I simply asked her what kind of valentine she wanted me to buy: spiderman or princess. She chose princess. There’s so much else going on, these dumb holidays sneak in there and so whatever’s easiest is best in my house most days.

  4. harri3tspy said,

    AJ is utterly embarrassed by making homemade valentines for his friends, much as I was when my mother made me do it and I was the only kid in class with homemade valentinres. It’s not worth the argument to me, so store-bought it is. I do insist on homemade valentines for his teachers, for us and for his grandmothers. But he makes them himself. I’ve been known to send them back for further embellishment if I think he was racing through the process in order to get on to something else. But mostly I leave him alone and mostly he likes it, even if he does gripe about mandatory projects that are not homework. But I love making valentines myself and Mr. Spy does too. So it makes it easier to encourage him to do it when he has our examples before him.

  5. chel said,

    At our house we went for store bought valentines but home-made treats. As long as I only offer options I can live with, they get a project, I can control it to my satisfaction, and everybody wins.

  6. The Lass said,

    I did some of both with the charges – they made valentines for their grandparents and parents and then signed their names to some store-bought boxes for their classmates. Younger charge was making a card for his paternal grandma, whose husband just died, and was insistent that she needed “very many” stickers because Pop-Pop wasn’t going to be there this year. Just about broke my heart.

  7. The Lass said,

    Unrelated: If you’re on FB, add me as a pal and/or feel free to join the Empire Carpet Guy Cult. I need more minions.

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