Days ago my oldest son was inspired to make valentines for his class.
All 18 of the 4-year-olds. He opened his art box and started pulling out every color construction paper and started to draw and cut out hearts. I was impressed. He’s only shown such focus when drawing princesses as the project du minute.
So I dove in with him.
And lo and behold, he wrote names as I frantically cut hearts (frantically because he wrote so quickly…obviously a genius) and he glued the hearts and applied princess and Spider-man stickers without rhyme or strategy.
Letting him use a Sharpie marker also helped inspire him. Sharpies are off-limits for obvious reasons.
It was awesome.
I never expected to make Valentines. Never once in my childhood did I hand out anything but what my mother bought at Target…Scooby Doo or Star Wars cards with stupid puns and whatnot.
I beamed with pride looking at our table littered with construction paper scraps. And the Valentines were cute.
And so obviously constructed by a 4-year-old – names were backwards with letters in no particular order, written in spirals, etc.
And then I questioned our choices and actions…because judgment. And I’m an idiot. And apparently still a slave to social pressures.
Nope…I couldn’t leave well enough alone and be proud of my son’s excitement to make Valentines for the first time in his life.
Instead, social pressures trumped my good judgment.
What if the other kids all have store-bought cards with princesses and BB-8 and he thinks, “Daddy! Theirs were better than mine!”
What if the other kids are pissed his aren’t coming with candy? (Because seriously…what preschooler needs candy?)
What if the other kids tell him his cards are dumb or that he should have included candy?
And then it becomes about me.
What if the parents think I’m a stingy asshole cuz we didn’t include candy?
What if they see that I obviously cut out the hearts and judge me for doing too much for my kid?
Worse, what if they roll their eyes at our efforts to make homemade Valentines?
Should I send them a class-wide disclaimer saying, ‘This was NOT my idea. I’m NOT a crafty Martha Stewart. In fact, I hate that shit! This was his idea!”
But then they get pissed at me because I’m downplaying my son’s creativity and trying to make them feel bad about their not-creative kid?
I know. I know.
Please let my son be less hampered by social obligations than I.
Happy Valentine’s Day to all and to all an anxiety-free Hallmark holiday devoid of stupid obligations. Just love one another, right? Like a 4-year-old would.
That’s the beauty of moving into the “senior years”…..you don’t care quite so much about this
stuff as you used to.
And OF COURSE you don’t want your child to be embarrassed or judged by others.
One year at Christmas, my little girl came home and said that the person who received the gift she donated to the anonymous gift exchange at school, upon opening it, reacted loudly so all could hear:
“Is this all I get? This is nothing!” My daughter was humiliated so after that I made
sure I spent a lot more and probably way more than I had to. I try to laugh these things
off but I hear ya. It’s real.
I really hope you let him take the valentines to school. It was a lovely idea!
Let’s assume the best of people and that they will appreciate the thought.
Avoid inhibition unless absolutely necessary.
The struggle is seriously real.
You are truly a loving and caring parent. I, like Chris, am glad to be moving into the “senior years” where you just don’t care as much what people think, though I worried about it a lot more when I was your age. Remember the fun you had making the cards with your sweet son. That is what is important in life. A good friend sent me the book “Don’t sweat the small stuff” which helped me a lot. Hopefully you can think of this the next time stuff like this happens. 😍
Our school has “banned” store bought cards and candy is already verboten. The angst is still there with the Martha Stewart Mom’s versus the rest of us. And there is always the occasional store bought and candy hearts that slip in. And there is the extra effort involved in making versus rushing to the store for whatever you find. But it’s all good.
But were the hippy school that has an organic lunch program. And no it’s not a private school and it’s in a crap neighborhood (HUD or Title 9, whatever you want to call it). It is a charter school though.
I had very much the same worries when my 3yo daughter wanted her birthday cake for the kindergarden (her first time celebrating with those kids) with McQueen (from Disney’s Cars) and not some princes. I was worried some kid will tell her it’s a boy’s cake and she would cry. I caved in and ordered a cake with Nemo for the kindergarden, and kept the McQueen one for the celebration at home.
Aren’t we silly? Worrying about others all the time. I’ll be fighting that for quite awhile. But my kids are teaching me way more than I absorbed in my own life pre-kids.
What a wonderful blogpost. Such genuine humanity! I went through something similar with my 5yo son and his valentines. Thank you for your writing — I’ll be back!
Thanks for writing, Lanya! It was a fun day. His exuberance was so precious. I’m the idiot caught up in others’ attitudes. Still working on it, myself!
Such a sweet idea. Your boy is precious!
I hope he got to take his cards and everyone was happy! 🙂
Oh, you bet. He took those cards and the other parents commented. Score one for daddy.
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Just a ridiculously GOOD post!lol,I can imagine the dilemmas a parents must go through with all sorts of social pressures ,as I’m a new mummy 🙂 BUT I really felt I was in the moment there! watching the scenario play out, you’re doing a great job!fyi: you can’t beat homemade cards!
Lovely and sweet idea 😃
I understand your thoughts on that because it’s happened to me in the past, but I came to the realisation, home made creativity is from the heart and you can’t put a price on that… Kudos for sticking with creativity and originality!! 👍
Yep. In the end, no one else really noticed the Valentines except for me. It was totally worth it. 🙂
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Wow I love your kid already! And yup I do agree with that “social obligation” thing. It really suck most of the time. but still, kudos to you! Your child is very blessed to have you as his father.
Cheers for you Sir!
Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Ann!
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