Saturday, February 16, 2013

Next Year...

Next year I am getting it right. 

Last year was my first experience as a parent trying to navigate the world of preschool Valentine's Day. I had instructions to deliver 39 Valentine's Day cards, each labeled with my daughter's name  ("Homemade cards welcome!"), to school for general distribution on February 14.  With little thought as to package to package variability, I picked up two boxes of small, brightly colored cards at Target and brought them home. On February 13 I opened the boxes, thinking I would have to do nothing more than write her name on the card, to discover the assembly of each card a five-step process that, in the end, took me 90 minutes and produced a meager little offering. 

That 90 minutes seemed an eternity, and not just for me, but for my 3 year old who, after 5 minutes, wandered off in search of more scintillating activity. Dinner still needed to be made. The house was a mess. But I remained alone at the kids' table to assemble, sticker, and label each card until all 39 were complete.  

I wasn't the only one who misjudged the expectations. In Munch's class are a few children from foreign countries, here for a few years while one or both of their parents complete graduate degree or post bac.  When Munch got home from school that she had a number of artful, standard-sized greeting cards, most written in unfamiliar languages. While I had been disappointed to find myself squandering dinner prep time with Valentine's Day card assembly, I wonder if those other parents were put off by the relatively paltry offerings put forth by their children's classmates. 

This year I bought far simpler cards in early February. 

And on Thursday I realized they were missing. Nothing in this house stays in one place for very long and so, after too long a period spent looking for the cards, I resigned myself to a second trip to Target for replacements. At this late hour, my options were Justin Bieber or origami fortune tellers

I strongly considered the Bieber cards. No preparation, not a particularly controversial celebrity, and who-cares-its-just-a-card. But an emotion similar to shame forced me to select the latter and hope dimly they were pre-folded. 

At home I confirmed I was not so lucky. In ground hog day fashion, I found myself alone in the kitchen, the night before Valentine's day, with dinner needing to be made, up against 39 unfolded origami cards and my own expectations. 

I did was I suspected I was going to do when faced with the potential each one of these cards would take me five or so minutes to complete. (Not to mention the time it would take to learn how to fold them in the first place.) Ignoring the multitude of dotted and crossed lines, I folded the cards lengthwise twice over and slid each card into its provided sleeve. I wrote my daughter's name on each sleeve and got on with the dinner preparation. 

Next year I might just distribute an envelop full of candy. Lord knows that is the only thing I wanted when I was 4. 


  1. Oh God ANYTHING but origami. I would have gone with Bieber all the way. I'm impressed that you persevered. If it had been me, each crane (or whatever) would have ended up a wadded ball.

    Our daycare did valentines cards too, and since nobody told us in advance what the expectations were, I got to not bring in anything and not feel any guilt whatsoever. I am not looking forward to subsequent years.

  2. For Valentine's Day one year, we were told not to bring in cards, and instead each student made a card (with fancy card stock and doilies and stuff), which we exchanged through an elaborate card exchange. It seemed like a pretty good way to avoid everyone getting 30+ tacky cards that just go in the garbage when they get home anyway.

  3. Oh god the daycare v-day nonsense. Seriously, does my 1-year old give a crap about whether he got some throw-away "Avengers" piece of cardboard or not? It makes a bit more sense for the older kids, but they start it so freaking early. I also couldn't find the "thomas the train" leftover cards from last year and had to go on the 13th to the drugstore...all that was left was "spiderman" and some generic looking labradour dogs that were apperently a Disney character of some sort. We went with the doggies. I also apparently did them "wrong"---there were stickers that you were supposed to tear off and stick into these little flaps so the sticker was a present for the recipient of the card. I had B stick the stickers directly on the card. Until B & L got into a fight and he shoved B into the coffee table over the sheet of stickers...then I ended up staying up and doing all the cards myself. I resented the loss of 30 minutes of relaxation time.

  4. I agree - V day cards are a TOTAL waste of time. This year I bought cheap sticker sheets and just had my daughter write: To XXX, From XXX on the back of each one. Easiest job ever, and much more fun/cheap than the commercially available V day products.

  5. I bought a box of 1,000, or maybe it was 10,000, 3-4" diameter white paper doilies from a restaurant supply store for a different project. When my kids were little I spotted the box and realized their potential. The box lasted through the Valentine's needs of all three of my kids. We had markers & glitter glue and they could decorate them any way they wanted. A leftover box of doilies turned into a brilliant way to address stupid V-day needs and trumped pre-made cards because it had the panache of crafting. I am NOT a crafter, so I enjoyed that.

  6. This is so much more fun when they get older and can participate! We are only required to do homeroom, so less than 20 cards/kid. This year, we got Target cards with no candy (school requirement, I was glad as there is always plenty at the parties) - folded ones with envelopes. Cecelia loved it - wrote oh so cute personal notes to each of her classmates, signed, and decorated the envelopes with stickers. Jack, despite announcing that this was "not my idea of a good time," signed all his cards and stuffed them, then returned later to decorate with stickers. His sister's excitement was contagious. During all this I COOKED AND CLEANED AND PACKED LUNCHES. Bopping in and out for support. Evening entertainment. It was awesome.

    I can empathize with you. It sucked when they were little - all on me. And freaking boxes to decorate on top of all that. Late night residency hell, it was.


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