The Valentine’s Miracle. A.K.A. Not really a Valentine’s miracle at all.

Last night I rushed home from work to sneak in a few minutes with the kids on Valentine’s Day before whisking them off to bed and indulging in a little homemade black truffled risotto and blood orange-fennel salad with my man. (Procreating with a culinary school grad does have its benefits.)

Thalia of course was effusive about Valentine’s Day, sharing every detail, making me read every card twice out loud, and reveling in every heart-shaped lollipop and mini pink-wrapped KitKat in her little treat bag. Sage just sort of shrugged and told me that “Gwace made me a cawd.”

“Really?” I asked. “No one else handed out cards in your whole class? I’m so surprised.”

“Gwace did.” She said again in that three year-old voice you want to bottle and sell for a million dollars a mililieter. “A weawwy weawwy nice one.”

I have to admit, I was feeling a little smug.

For the first time in history, I did something right. I was the mom who spent all weekend supervising the creation of 8 million semi-handmade cards. I helped the girls cut out the heart shapes and the construction paper, and wield the glue stick and the Crayolas. I helped Sage write the four letters of her name on the back of the cards. I dictated the spelling of Thalia’s classmates’ names. I remembered the teachers and the beloved school security guard. And I kept the encouragement up even when they ran out of steam after, oh…say the third card.

Meanwhile, the other moms blew it off?

I imagined them all sooooo very impressed with me. Wow, Sage’s mom finally got her shit together for a change. And what adorable cards! Who knew she had it in her!

It was hard to believe, of course, but miracles do happen. Even in Brooklyn.

This morning, as we cleaned up the kitchen from last night’s dinner (zomg black truffled risotto) I came across a sweet little pile of Valentine’s Day cards, each one addressed to Sage.

“Sagey!” I called to her. “You did get cards from all your friends…”

And then I looked right next to the pile–

There, untouched, was a little plastic baggie full of Sage’s own handmade Valentine’s Day cards that she had hauled all the way to school. And then, all the way home again.

 [Cards by the black apple and bunnycakes, via cool mom picks
Celebrating Valentines Day again tomorrow (sigh) via my 3 year-old.]


41 thoughts on “The Valentine’s Miracle. A.K.A. Not really a Valentine’s miracle at all.”

  1. I blame the teachers. They should have checked the bag. Good for you for going homemade. I had each girl make one V-day picture and then placed a bulk postcard order. I am shameless in my pursuit of big bang for little effort.

  2. Aww I love the cards and I can totally relate. My twins and I made cupcake pops for all of their classmates. Plus I had to bake about 2 dozen cupcakes for each of their classes. We put the cupcake pops in a bag and gave them to the teacher along with the cupcakes when I dropped them off in the morning. A small fear of the bag being left on the side near the teachers desk all day haunted me. I wondered if they would even be given out. I also wondered if any other mom stayed up until 2am preparing individual goodies for a bunch of 3 year olds. To my relief they came home with a bag full of stuff and the cupcake pops bag was empty. Again, loved the story. Consider me a new follower of your blog 😉

  3. We got cards on the days after her party. She can still pass them out.

    I was the only one with home made cards, and they weren't even my idea, M wanted to make them. I felt smug on her behalf.

  4. Okay, so youngest is 9 and this is my…um…okay, my oldest is 17…so, this is the 1st year I was able to pull together the Valentine's Day cards for the elementary set, 2 weeks early!

    Aaaaand, she comes home all pissy because they banned Valentine's Day cards and parties, this year.

    Go figure, dumb holidays, stupid schools!

  5. *headdesk*

    We made homemade valentines this year, too. G thought it would be cheaper, and it totally wasn't, but they were beyond cute and we figured out that popsicle sticks make kickass bookmarks.

    Then I showed up at the very tail end of the party to pick up my girl and the room mother looked at me and said, “Oh, we want to give all our late arrivals a chance to play the game, too.” I wasn't a late arrival volunteer, I was an early arrival parent to pick up a kid. I volunteered at the last two parties. But I stood there, cheeks burning, feeling like the world's biggest moron.

  6. I agree, teachers should check the bag and supervise the handing out of the Valentine's cards better. Especially when they're that young. But great effort on actually making the cards! My mom always just bought me a package of Disney Princess cards and called it a day haha.

  7. I love how they do it my daughter's K class. You have to hand them in early and the teacher makes sure they all go into everyone's Valentine's Day box. Of course, at my other daughter's Jewish preschool, they won't let us hand out Valentine cards at all (b/c of St. Valentine apparently) which is so ridiculous. BTW – adore those cards!! And cards handing out on Feb 15th are even more special!

  8. I agree — 3 year olds should not have to remember the cards themselves.

    Our “homework assignment” for Josie's class was to have the kids make a “Valentines Mailbox.” I gave Josie a white box and markers. Other parents went absolutely insane!!! Feather-crowned lids, boxes shaped like racecars, are you kidding me?

    I was pretty proud of us for making Noah write his own name on the “from” line of all of his Star Wars Clone Wars Sticker cards. You are a rock star.

  9. I totally agree that the teachers should have made sure cards were taken. At my son's school (he's only 4), the teachers do it all–they collect the cards from each kid/parent at drop-off. They make each of the kids a bag (old lunch bag style) and then fill the bags with all the cards. There are no fancy boxes (this way kids don't feel bad about their box and it doesn't get insane).

    The cards are beautiful.

  10. Aw, I don't blame the teachers at all. All the moms brought the kids to the classroom and put the cards in the various cubbies. I did early drop-off (hi, working mom!) and probably should have alerted one of the teachers to the fact that she had them in her coat pocket in the first place.

  11. That's too funny. Classic actually.

    I remember telling a couple who had two older children about my three young kids. They laughed and said, “Good luck.”

    It's stories like yours that make me think about that conversation.

    We put so much time and effort into enriching our kids' lives, but then the cards don't get delivered, and the new boots get left at school, and they give away their nutritious snack for a piece of candy.

  12. Oh man, that's classic…

    And hey, I'm all about celebrating holidays, bdays, etc. late… keep the party going. 🙂 #silverlining

  13. Didn't think about early drop-off. when we do that, you just hope everything gets where it's going.

    Is she going to give them out late? They are too pretty to not share.

  14. Dalai Mama, we'll give them out in March if we have to. We worked all weekend on those!

    (Also, so good to see you back here!)

    Mannahattamama, She won't need the therapy. She's just happy that Gwace gave her a card. As for me, though…

  15. If it makes you feel better, we belong to a nursery group for the itty bitty crowd. The woman who organizes it sent out an e-mail weeks ago with the schedule and it included Valentine's. Then she mentioned it in-person and sent a reminder e-mail last week.

    We made the decision to skip out on this week's nursery group because we had such a busy weekend and I thought Charlotte would benefit from a day snuggling and taking it easy at home. Last night, when I checked e-mail, I found nearly two dozen notes from people asking if they could mail their handmade valentines to Charlotte. Some of them even included pictures of the festivities.

    I felt like shit.

    And now I have to make some handmade valentines for next week!

  16. I hate the day and would love to see it banned for a host of reasons…especially in schools.

    It creates issues and hurt feelings that are simply unnecessary. With young children who don't understand the day it is nothing more than a chance for parental grandstanding.

    And with older ones, well then you get into all sorts of nastiness because this one is upset with that one for giving/not giving etc.

    What is the point of this day other than to generate revenue for a few companies.

  17. Wowww Jack. I can't say I agree with you. For us it was an opportunity to talk about how good it feels to show your friends you care about them, and imagine how happy they'll feel when they see something you did just for them.

    Parents have plenty of opportunities for grandstanding all year long. I doubt the scene you're describing is a cause, but a symptom.

  18. The school has a security guard? Wow. That's a statement on something-or-other.

    I love making Valentine's cards with my kids. It's fun. What drives me batty is not handmade v. store-bought but the CANDY! The candy! It's like Halloween.

  19. I'm not a huge V Day fan in general … but I have to admit when it's done well, it's a great experience for children. They practice writing, art making and they think a lot about other people's feelings. Our teacher even had the kids be “secret valentines” wherein they each composed a sentence about another child telling what it was about them that was so wonderful.

    Some of what we did together here:

  20. I have to say I enjoy Valentines as a holiday for children (for grownups? that's another story). Not sure about the grandstanding….are you saying people are making elaborate valentines and then gloating about them? Here in the Bay Area many people make their own but lots of people simply buy off-the-shelf valentines. To be honest, I think the kids prefer the prefab ones because they tend to have crappy characters on them.

    At our elementary school you are supposed to bring a valentine for every child in the class so it doesn't become a popularity contest (this is if you choose to participate, you don't have to). It's an opportunity for the kiddos to make classroom crafts and assembling them and writing out all the names is a great/fun way to practice writing (i have a first grader).

    I love halloween, but I think valentines is a much more positive holiday….appreciate your friends and GIVE them something (as opposed to dress up and demand candy from strangers).

    (don't get me wrong….i DO love Halloween….just sayin' it's hard to hate on hearts!)

  21. @Jack Childhood is short and it seems to be getting shorter every year. You know why? Because we keep taking all of the fun out of it for kids. First it was Halloween. Schools around the country close on that day now, just to avoid it. Because I guess letting kids dress up and enjoy a day with their friends isn't okay.

    You think we should ban Valentines Day now too? Why? What's the harm in little cards and candy one day a year? I mean really? Most elementary schools send out a list. Either you send to all or none. Simple. It avoids much drama.

    I just don't understand how giving kids a few days a school year to just have fun, is a bad thing. You say that there will be hurt feelings. I guess that can be true. I'll tell you though, I have three kids, two of whom are girls in elementary school. Kids don't need any reason to hurt each others feelings. It's a part of life at that age. It gives them just another opportunity to learn to deal with each other.

  22. Hmm, I have to agree with Jack.

    My daughter's school requires that she bring in a valentine for every kid in the class, so no one is singled out as either “most lovable”, or “most unlovable”. I can see the value in that.

    But…here are my 'buts'.

    But…wouldn't another solution be more practical, and authentic? If you like someone enough to send them a Valentine, why not mail it to their house?

    But…are we protecting our kids – unnecessarily – from Charlie Brown moments? I'd like to think that we're raising Alice to handle rejection. I want to teach her that rejection is a part of life; she's going to experience it sometime, someday – and what's more, that she'll survive rejection. With our love and support.

    But…(my last but) Alice doesn't LOVE or even LIKE every kid in her class, and why should she pretend she does? Isn't that the illness we, as women, have suffered from for years?

    I dunno. I bought the damn cards and helped her write them out. I think next year (3rd grade) I'll give her the choice to opt-out.

    Lisa D.
    aka motherhoodmag

  23. Liz, I try not to answer just a comment and not the post. Sometimes it's needed.

    Anyway, Sage is adorable. I think at her age, anytime she gives out those cards (which are adorable by the way) her friends will be thrilled to get them.

    I don't think my son got it at all. He enjoyed taking cards in and he loved the candy. But he's two. I heard he wished someone a happy Christmas yesterday.

  24. That is adorable. But I think the real magic may have been in your making the Valentine's Day cards together.

    My 12 year old and 9 year old made none and got none. I saw this coming. My son got cards from a bunch of girls last year and told them that last year's cards were better because they were accompanied by chocolate. No recession-flavored excuses, ladies!

  25. I think the comment by Lisa D. is really interesting. Especially the question about pretending to like people.

    I am all for more of that!

    Everyone has something good about them. Even people we dislike. Learning about that stuff, and exercising restraint when it comes to our own feelings, I think anyway, is really important for the future.

  26. Oh no! I would hand them out the next day for sure! I definitely the mom who NEVER has her sh!t together…last week I forgot to remind kiddo to bring a rock to school, the week before that it was a candle. Luckily, she doesn't seem to think it's a big deal (for now).

  27. Last year I helped my son make handmade cards, for which he and I both should get some sort of patience award, because between his motor skills delay AND his total inability to sit still for more than ten minutes at the time, let's just say keeping making cards FUN was an epic effort for both of us.

    We expended so much energy on the cards that by the time it came to picking out candy / gifts I had no time to put together the little labeled gift bags I knew everyone else would have. So I just bought the first bag of nice big peanut-free lollipops I could find and asked my son's teacher to please just hand one out to each kid.

    When I came back at the end of the day I found out the teacher had decided the kids had enough candy anyway so she had dumped my son's bag of candy into her secret child bribery stash and not given any of it out.

    So my son was the ONLY kid who did not give the other kids any little presents or candy. All the other parents had brought elaborately decorated personalized gift boxes etc.

    This year I put together elaborate hand labeled candy-and-gift bags in addition to the handmade valentines.

    And so, of course, this year, we were the only ones who bothered to do gift bags.

  28. Wowww Jack. I can't say I agree with you. For us it was an opportunity to talk about how good it feels to show your friends you care about them, and imagine how happy they'll feel when they see something you did just for them.

    Do you really need a fake holiday to have that conversation? To be clear I think that is a wonderful discussion and a great lesson. I am big on service and giving back.

    But I don't see this being something that can only be taught alongside Vday.

    Parents have plenty of opportunities for grandstanding all year long. I doubt the scene you're describing is a cause, but a symptom.

    I'll happily agree with that. Even if my wish were granted the grandstanding wouldn't disappear. Parents will still engage in actions that are sad and silly. I see it at school science fairs and birthday parties.

    @Jack Childhood is short and it seems to be getting shorter every year. You know why? Because we keep taking all of the fun out of it for kids.

    Are you really going to suggest that removing a fake holiday that celebrates hype and consumerism is going to harm childhood. Really, are we going to say that it is less fun. I don't buy it.

    You say that there will be hurt feelings. I guess that can be true. I'll tell you though, I have three kids, two of whom are girls in elementary school. Kids don't need any reason to hurt each others feelings. It's a part of life at that age. It gives them just another opportunity to learn to deal with each other.

    I am a big believer in practical lessons for children. I believe that children need to learn how to fail and how to lose. It is a part of life and I think that as parents we need to teach them coping skills.

    But I don't believe in crushing their self esteem and sense of self worth.

    And I think that is a slippery slope to sluff off hurt feelings by saying that they will be hurt anyway.

    We are all products of our experiences. I remember kids from middle school who were devastated by this day.

    It is great to instruct the kids to bring Valentines for all of their classmates but it doesn't always work out.

    And for the children who are left out it can be traumatic.

    There are lots of ways to teach our children valuable lessons. This day causes more trouble than it is worth.

    Hmm, a lot of fodder for blog posts here too…

    My apologies for the long comment. It was not my intent to hijack your thread.

  29. With all due respect Jack, it seems like all the “trouble” caused by this holiday might be your own baggage you're bringing to it. I'm sorry for whatever happened to you in junior high school. But for a lot of us, holidays–even the “fake” ones–are fun. And they're fun for our kids.

    Did I need an excuse to devote a whole Saturday with my kids making crafts with them and talking about the joy of giving?

    I suppose I did.

  30. Those cards were precious! I <3 Valentine's Day. Last year I spent probably an hour a day for a week cutting out anatomically correct hearts to make Valentines...for my co-workers. But you know what? Add chocolate and a pink headband and it was a nice day. I appreciate the indulgence.

    This year the little one was four, so we did the homemade thing. I cut, she colored and glued and glittered and we made a mess that stuck around our house for DAAAAYS (oh the joys of a half-finished craft project) but we had so much fun. And even if all her little friends went home and pulled out the candy and the crazy straw and threw away the card part, the look on their faces when she presented them their cards was wonderful, and worth it.

  31. Oops.

    You still rock, anyway. This is definitely not your fault. It's just the joy of living with a 3-year-old. I'm a stay-at-home mom and the same sort of thing has happened to me more than once. What your kids do at school is out of your hands.

  32. You deserve a great big bottle of wine. Ugh! If it makes you feel any better, um, it so didn't occur to me for a single second to make valentines. Not one second. Oops.

  33. No! All that hard work. I sat making Valentines cards for my son's classmates about an hour before he was due to arrive at school and hand them out, then realized the glitter paint we'd used wasn't going to dry in time. Needless to say his little friends received smeary-glittery heart cards that probably stained their clothes. It was the thought that counted. Or something.

  34. All I can say is oh crap. And I don't blame the teachers. They have too much to do already. No blame. Who cares if the cards come out a day or three late? No one.

  35. Oh, and when your kids get much older, like mine? Then comes the lesson of what to do when the boy you don't like sends you a flower and then texts you to see if you got it, and the boy you like ignored you, and the girl with the eating disorder has to figure out what to do with the chocolate her friends got her. yeah, not so much fun in high school.

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