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.