Treasure to Trash: What I’ll Do Differently this Valentine’s Day
Once upon a time, I was someone who made those Pinterest Valentines. I'd scour pages of images, looking for the perfect thing to create that was fitting for my children and their friends. This year I'm not going to be seduced by more of those perfectly crafted and far-more-expensive-than-they-needed-to-be treats I spent too much time making.
One year I made these adorable packages that proclaimed “I wheelie like you” with accompanying tire track graphics. Each label was cut and folded, attached carefully to a little bag containing a small plastic car toy, and signed “from Sawyer,” my son. I was totally in love with them. I'm not sure Sawyer cared one bit about them. He probably wanted the box of pre-printed Cars Valentine's cards at Target.
In fact, despite my love, based on my experience with my own children, here is what I imagine happened once they passed along to his young classmates …
Child is picked up from school playing with small plastic car.
Parent asks, “Hey, where did you get that toy? Was it a Valentine from a friend?”
Child replies, “I don't know.”
Parent then digs through bag of discarded plastic and crumpled cards, pencils, mini bubbles, lollipops, stickers, and other tiny items to finally find the paper tag that says “I wheelie like you! from Sawyer”.
Parent cleverly deduces that plastic car is from Sawyer.
Parent looks for child to share this information, only to find that car has been dropped on the floor in the hallway, never to be played with again.
Now, if it really does bring you a special kind of joy to spend hours putting together Valentine's Day gifts for your child's classmates, by all means you should do it. I promise you that I'll take a moment to marvel at your talent and dedication when the kids bring home their bag of goodies, right before I throw most of them in the garbage. But if you're like me, and feel your time and money could likely be spent in much better ways – like buying a bottle of wine and binge-watching episodes of various shows on Netflix – then why don't you opt this year to take Valentine's Day festivities back to what they could be: a simple celebration of all kinds of love.
What better way to teach our children about real love than teaching them that it's not about plastic toys you can find in the dollar bins or yet another pencil (I can't be the only one who has more pencils than I could ever need already!) but about appreciating a person for all the things that make them unique. Break out the old-school construction paper and some crayons. Sit down with your child ask ask them about the kids in their class. Help them write their own Valentine's cards based on the people they're giving them to.
Madison, you always make me laugh.
Ryan, I like how you help me during reading.
Colton, you're a good friend.
Riley, I like listening to you sing.
They can draw a horse for their friend who is equine obsessed, a football for their pal who couldn't stop talking about the Superbowl. Instead of sending another piece of candy that the allergy kids can't eat or tiny rubber balls that can end up costing hundreds of dollars if little sister drops them in the toilet and destroys the plumbing, why not do something different? Give them the opportunity to consider what love can be.
You'll have a chance to talk to your child about their friends, about appreciating others, about finding the good in everyone. They'll have a chance to think of others, to learn gratitude and kindness, to make new connections with you.
If that isn't love, I don't know what is.
What do you think?