Valentines Day is Saturday, just in case you had somehow avoided the seasonal section at the local drug store during the last few weeks. I wouldn’t blame you if you had. Most of the Valentines related merchandise at the store closest to me has already been marked down and moved to the discount rack to make room for Easter.
I had received a notice from my son’s teacher that all students were to bring in Valentines for the class along with a small treat. She was even kind enough to provide a list of names as well as a suggested schedule of how many we should create each night so as not to overwhelm our child. I don’t exactly know where I stand on this issue. Doesn’t the Valentine lose a bit of its sparkle when it is a) mandatory and b) generic? But then again, kiddo is only six. In his book, any assignment that results in candy is a good assignment.
Up until this time, we had made all of our cards for his friends at day care by hand. Some were finger paints. Some were water colors. Some were random pieces of paper glued together in a shape vaguely resembling a heart (why I am not on dozens of Pinterest boards is a mystery). Making individualized cards by hand is easy when there are only four other children at the center with a supervising adult (especially when most can’t read more than their name), but the list his teacher sent home this year contained over twenty names. Gah! Who has time for that?
To my darling boy, if you happen to come across mommy’s writing at some future date and see this post, know that we love you, and are so terribly, terribly proud of you, but watching you write sentences at this age can sometimes be like watching someone trying to go the wrong way on an escalator. You know the person is getting exercise, but it seems to take an unnecessarily long time to reach the destination.
I made the executive decision that we would be purchasing cards this year. All he would have to do is copy each friend’s name from the list on the card. He selected a box featuring several different Hot Wheel’s race car designs and got to work. I would read a name from the list as he scribbled away. As I read the name of one of his best friends, he turned the card over and looked at the image. “Oh, he is going to love this one!” he smiled. A few names later, he flipped the card over again. Only this time he frowned as he said, “she’s not going to like this card.”
Apparently, in my son’s opinion, if it isn’t pink, purple, or has Elsa on the back, the girls in his class just aren’t interested. However, I had no interest in picking up a second pack of cards. It is the thought that counts, right? I told him the girls would have to accept what he gave them. The message must have sunk in, because when the next girl’s name was read he announced proudly that “she was just going to have to get over it.”
Imagine then how guilty then I felt to read a piece in the Washington Post about how the mindset which allows a man to view women as conquests, rather than people, might actually develop in early childhood. In it, the author argues:
“We teach our boys that it’s up to them to be the aggressor, to make a move, to ask her out. We teach our girls to sit and wait and hope for someone to invite them to prom.
Media and pop culture messages tell boys that girls are desirable and weak and emotional. Conversely, they show girls that boys are aggressive and strong and, more often than not, in charge.”
Had I just taught my son that the girls in his class should feel grateful to receive anything at all from him rather than something that actually reflected their interest? That they should automatically enjoy whatever my son dished out because it was what he had picked? I may have to do some damage control.
Then again, what if there are girls in my son’s class who like cars over princesses? What if there are girls who don’t like pink? They might enjoy getting a card featuring a neon green hot rod with blue racing stripes. They might not have to “get over it.” They might actually like getting the card my son will be handing out. We just assumed they wouldn’t because they are five and six-year-old girls. I was mentally separating the genders. The article’s author is right. This practice has to stop for gender equality to take hold. I just wish it was as easy as drawing a heart on a hand made card.
It just goes to show you that Valentines Day is a dangerous holiday. Perhaps next year we’ll celebrate National Ferris Wheel Day instead.