Thursday, February 13, 2014

Then and Now

When I was a kid, way back before electricity, there weren't any special rules about Valentine's Day.  There weren't any special rules about most things.  I suppose that the schools thought that parents were supposed to be teaching their children about empathy, and sharing, and all those Hallmark sentiments. The joke was on the education system.  My parents assumed that we learned that stuff in school.   Most of my conversations with my parents were limited to a)what I did in school today, b)did I have homework?, and c)why did I have to fight with my brother all the time?

A couple of days before Valentine's Day, our teacher would ask us to bring in a shoe box.  After cutting a hole in the lid of the shoe box, we would spend an extraordinary amount of class time cutting, gluing, and coloring shoe boxes to hold all of our Valentines.  The girls would gather up red and pink construction paper and spend hours cutting out little hearts and fastidiously gluing them onto their shoe box. At least, the girls who had mastered the fine motor skills required to cut out such fancy designs did that.  My hearts tended to look like warped circles at that age, but I tried to fit in as best as I could.  Even then, I felt more comfortable hanging around with boys, who were less likely to judge my attempts to be crafty.

Once the boxes were finished, they were set along one wall, names facing forward.  On Valentine's Day, we would place valentines into the boxes of the people we wanted.  That's right--we were not required to give every single kid in our class a valentine.  The popular kids, even in second grade, got shoe boxes stuffed with hearts and candy.  The rest of us poor schlubs were lucky if we got a single valentine.  I can remember stressing about opening an empty box.  In third grade, my only friend Beth was my valentine.  I didn't get any more than that. 

Some mothers made sure that their children brought enough valentines for all of their classmates, which was admirable for the time.  But if their kid didn't feel so inclined, those extra valentines ended up in the trash or stuffed into odd places, like the crevice underneath the sidewalk outside the door of the school.  (The janitor had told us that there was a gremlin living under there.  Yes, even an imaginary gremlin would get valentines. I think he ate them.)

This year, my son brought in an empty cereal box, and it will be decorated, likely with crayon, since that is Zane's favorite medium.  We were sent a note specifically stating that every child must have a valentine, and that our son must fill out each envelope with his classmate's name.  They are even sending us a list so we can make sure that each child's name is spelled correctly.  Tomorrow, they will place each valentine into its respective box. They will all open their valentines together, and giggle at the messages, because they're in Kindergarten and that is what you do. There's also a pizza party planned for sometime after the morning Mass.

And Zane will care not one bit how many valentines he gets, or if someone forgot him, or if he's missing a piece of chocolate from his secret stash.  He's not the least bit interested in how many friends he has, or if he is "popular".  He is a boy, and as far as he is concerned, every day is Valentine's Day.    

And there is the biggest difference between then and now.



Mama’s Losin’ It

5.) How is Valentine's Day different for your kids than when you were a kid?


  1. Oh yes. When I was a kid the teachers might hint around that it was a good idea to bring a Valentine for everyone in class, but that was it. Now showing up without a card - complete with candy, of course - would be punishable by death, or at least a phone call home or something. My boys don't really care much either, it's more of a "Hey, do we get some candy today?" reaction.

  2. Very true. My daughter is only two, and the list of things not allowed at her "school" is a mile long to include candy, cookies, cupcakes, juice and anything with nuts or that may have ever possibly come within a mile of a nut. I totally understand the reasoning (child obesity, tooth decay and allergies) but it's definitely in stark comparison to the way things were when I was growing up!

  3. Valentine's Day was much the same for me, as it was for you. And, I surely am a generation ahead of you. Now days... it seems that even in Kindergaten our children (grandchildren) need to be "politically correct". Crazy! I'll take the good-old-days!

  4. That is so sad!! I definitely would have been heart broken to open a Valentine box that had nothing inside for me. I'm sure glad they changed that little rule!


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