Valentine’s Day used to be about love and romance in our house. Now that the boys are in school, the week leading up to the big day is filled with frenzy, because celebrating Valentine’s Day at school requires much preparation that must be done at home.
Each year the children are required to decorate a box to hold their Valentines. I dutifully go to the attic and pull out boxes, send the boys to the basement with their art supplies and lock them in until they’ve produced something suitable.
Purchasing the Valentines that each child will distribute involves major decisions: Scooby Doo or Incredibles? Spiderman or SpongeBob? What candy should be attached to the notes, Starburst or chocolate?
The choices are endless:
Once these decisions are made, the real work begins. We set up a work station for each boy with his Valentines, a list of the kids in his class, a pen and tape. Each valentine is labeled, adorned with candy, and stuck in a baggie for distribution on the 14th.
Porter and Drew are at the perfect age for this. They enthusiastically decorated their boxes together, wrote out their Incredibles Valentines and taped on the candy with little help from me. In thirty minutes they were done.
Finn was a different story. Apparently the many types of Valentines out there weren’t good enough to excite a fourth grade boy. As I was checking over my list of things to do last week, I realized he hadn’t said one word about getting any.
“Finn, are you giving Valentines in your class this year?” I asked him.
He shrugged. “I guess so.”
“I’m about to go to the store in a few minutes. What kind do you want me to buy? They have Incredibles, Spiderman–”
“Mom,” he interrupted, “do they have to be, like, a theme? Don’t they make some that are just plain red or blue and say ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’?”
“I don’t think so,” I said doubtfully. “You can either buy the box of little ones that are Sponge-Bob or Dora or something, or you can spend lots of money and buy a great big fancy card, which we can’t afford to do for everyone in your class.”
“You mean the cards with flowers that fit in a real envelope that say mushy things?” he asked.
“Gross. No way. I don’t want those either. I just want something plain. You know, kind of manly,” Finn said.
Although Publix had a large Valentine’s Day section, on my previous trips I hadn’t seen any Valentines that oozed virility. I suggested that Finn go to the store with me, so at least he could pick out his own candy if he didn’t see any suitable notes. He was less than impressed with the selection of cards at the store, and while we returned home with a bag of mini-Twix, we still had no Valentines for him to give.
“This is ridiculous,” Finn said, frustrated. “Why aren’t there any cards that say ‘Happy Valentine’s Day, Dude”? With maybe some racing stripes? Why does everything have to be either girly or cartoony or all lovey-dovey?”
“Honey, Valentine’s Day is mainly to tell people you love them,” I reminded him.
“Not for me,” he said stubbornly. “I’m just giving out Valentines because my teacher says we have to. And to get the candy. But I’m not giving out anything goofy.”
“Hey, it’s up to you,” I told him. “We’ve got plenty of paper. You can make your own and make them as macho as you want. Maybe something like, ‘Tomatoes are red, Windex is blue, I don’t like girlie Valentines, This manly one’s for you.'”
He looked at me, grinning. “That’s a great idea!” he exclaimed. “But no offense, Mom. I don’t think I’m going to write about vegetables and Windex. That’s still kind of girlie.”
He rushed into the basement and I heard him tapping on the computer. Later he came upstairs with his finished products. He taped Twix to each one, and bundled them in a plastic bag. **
I think he created some cards that fill a hole in the Valentine’s Day market that I’d never identified before: Simple, Romance-Free Valentines for the Manly Man:
I’m ordering reams of paper so we can start shipping Finn’s Manly Valentines to stores nationwide in time for next Valentine’s Day. We’re gonna be rich!
** Although he created four different types of cards, I didn’t let him give out any with the last sentiment on it. It seemed a little harsh so I thought we ought to test it out with a focus group first.