T’was the weekend before Valentine’s Day, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring…but they were busy cutting, colouring and gluing over 50 homemade Valentines.
Every year, after the insane rush of the holiday season, the CracTpot household starts to gets a little cocky with so much time on our hands, but luckily, February rolls around with demands of its own.
When my oldest daughter started kindergarten, I was still trying to impress the world with my parenting skills. I was determined not to waste hard earned money on flimsy little pieces of cardboard only to spend the next few hours staring at the maniacally grinning face of Dora the Explorer, trying not to tear my hair out while keeping a 5 year old focused on addressing 25 Valentines. I was convinced I could do it better. How hard could it be to construct my own flimsy pieces of cardboard?
Thanks to back to back holidays endorsing Halloween and Christmas candy, November, December and most of January are spent gorging on treats. The kids are keen on keeping the dream alive with more sweets for their sweeties, but I, the responsible parent that I am, manage to convince everyone to go a healthier route. That first year, in honour of the green movement raging across the country, pushing organic vegetables and cloth diapers (both, that I failed at miserably, by the way) we chose an environmentally friendly option to usher in an early Spring. Using biodegradable paper we fashioned an envelope that held Forget-Me-Not seeds with instructions to plant the entire thing in the garden come summer. With a catchy “Don’t Forget Me Valentine” title across the top, we were in business.
The following year, we continued with the flower theme, but migrated to an edible treat, with salted sunflower seeds and professions of “You are My Sunshine”. We were on a roll. Two years later, things got a tad trickier when the count doubled with my middle child starting school. When the youngest joined the party, we decided to make a day of it, complete with snacks and beverages, which was really just an acceptable way for my husband and I to add alcohol to an increasingly trying ordeal. During our peak, we were at almost 100 Valentines for our three elementary aged children, their teachers, assistants and fellow students, and I started to seriously look into protesting class sizes.
After ten years, I feel we have utilized every treat inspired pun available and my enthusiasm for another year of Valentine Cheer is waning. I have learned it doesn’t matter if you work your tail off inspiring to be the best parent on the block, no one will notice until that moment your child decides to do their best impersonation of a small angry wild animal. No matter how much time you invest, you will still at some point, undoubtedly have to endure a parent\teacher meeting where concern is expressed over your child’s progress in the classroom. You can try to prove that there was just a misunderstanding that resulted in the poor showing on the last unit test, but when you turn to your son asking him to prove he knows the subject matter by reciting the months of the year, he might look up from his colouring to ask if ‘Summer’ is one.
No Valentine, no matter how original the idea, is going to make up for that impression.
Still, a lover of words will not be denied the pleasure of puns. These days the goal is more my own amusment rather than trying to impress anyone with my abilities as a parent. It has definitely changed the overall feel of the season.
My first suggestion for 2016, keeping with the surging Feminist movement that encourages knocking down gender biases when it comes to child play, involved giving each youngster a toy truck with the following inscription.
Even though I assured my husband that kids these days probably hear worse in the school yard, he refused to attend any parent /teacher meetings with me in the future if I pushed this one through. Although I’m assured these sessions are intended to improve our child’s academic performance I sometimes feel teachers just want faces for the outrageous stories that my children report back to school with, and considering ours is a two ring circus, I wouldn’t want to deny anyone the full cracTpot experience.
The next idea was to give every student a box of Jello with this stuck to the front.
My kids are not of the Lionel Richie era and the following suggestion resulted in a good hour of distraction as we searched the internet for the original “Hello” video. My daughter was unimpressed with the teacher/potential stalker and his inappropriate relationship with his student, the poor blind girl who was obviously in love with whomever she had sculpted. It took a few moments of confusion before I explained that the bust was the teacher/potential stalker, at which point my middle daughter decreed that it looked nothing like him.
The youngest helpfully suggested Lionel Richie never claimed to love the student for her talent and besides, she was blind so she should be cut a little slack for not knowing what he looked like. Oldest child then piped up that Mozart was able to create music even though he was deaf and I decided to scrap the entire idea and move along before we got any deeper into a discussion on disabilities and limitations that I didn’t feel equipped to handle after 3 ‘beverages’.
In the end, commercialization won out and we decided on a Star Wars themed Valentine guaranteed to please the masses.
Nothing is more romantic than a man with an accent, unless it’s a little green man with an accent, “We hope, a happy Valentines Day, you have”
However you decide to express your love (or parenting skills) this year, remember, love is a battlefield but making your own Valentines doesn’t have to be. Keep it simple, have fun and make a day of it (which is really just an acceptable way of adding alcohol).
At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet. ~Plato