Thursday, February 14, 2008

Strike One and Candy Hearts

Happy Valentine's Day, I suppose. I'm not trying to be a scrooge here, but we just aren't too much into the holiday around this house. I've not always been like that. I used to love it as a kid, I would have died if my boyfriends hadn't given me flowers in high school, and my mom still sent me Valentine's Day care packages when I was in college. But somewhere along the way I just lost the desire to celebrate with cards and candy and flowers. I think it has something to do with the day being so commercialized. It's not an important enough day in the Church calendar to make me want to redeem it from secular, commercialized society. I did tell Calvin we could go to the drug store tomorrow and stock up on marked down candy and Valentine's goodies.

So imagine my surpise when I walked up to the front door of Calvin's school today to see that kids were trading valentines. Yikes! Strike one for the uninvolved, completely clueless parent. I am way too new to this school parent thing, and I hadn't even thought about sending my little heartthrob to preschool with cards gushing of his love for the cute girls in his class. Besides it's a Chinese preschool. We are having a New Year's party on Saturday. Now there's a holiday I can get into!

Thankfully, there was another mom at the door who had been as clueless-or maybe just as sensible-as I. I mean, three and a half is a little young for declaring one's undying love, isn't it? Or maybe it isn't. Calvin came home with candy hearts plastered in messages like "Kiss Me" and "Sweet Talk" and "New Love." Boy am I glad he was too busy eating them to notice they had words! I can just imagine the conversation.

"Mommy, what does this one say?"
"Mommy, who am I supposed to kiss?"
"Mommy, what is sweet talk?"

No thank you. I'll keep my little boy a little longer. No need to worry about kissing girls yet.

Of course, I realize that this is all just fun and candy for a preschooler, but I remember how quickly it became something more for the little girls in my elementary school growing up. Valentines were chosen carefully for the maximum affect, to declare one's love to a crush, to snub the weird girl who sat alone, to share a secret joke with a best friend. It was all there, the cruel and cliquish and flirty ways that kids, especially girls, so quickly learn to manipulate. It started early.

Wow! That was not where I was going with this post, but I think it is interesting. Maybe I do need to reclaim Valentine's Day, have my boys make sweet cards for all of the kids in their class, help them think of ways to show Christ's love to the weird kid who sits alone. Maybe there is something to using this day to teach them the nature of real, sacrificial, Godly love. If I don't teach them that, they are sure to keep getting candy hearts with suggestive comments that warp their view of love as they grow up.

And then one day they will open a Dove dark chocolate, like I just did, only to read the message "Naughty is Nice" on the inside of the wrapper.


Em the luddite said...

You just tell Calvin that "sweet talk" is what I do with him... incandescent light bulbs and all!

I'll betcha he would really get into an explaination of Valentine's Day that involved finding people who didn't have many friends and making them feel special. He is Mr. Make-Sure-Everyone-Is-Taken-Care-Of. He could end up being that really cool guy... guitar, juggling, poetry and all!

Kerry - A Ten O'Clock Scholar said...

I hate how our culture so quickly throws our kids into the "dating" game. Let them just be kids! Yeesh...

...and then I watch as my neighbor's son and my daugther exchange small tokens of their affection for each other and talk about getting married someday...and I think, "How dear." And they are only 6.

Ewww.. does that sound awful? It is true though. These two kids have known each other since birth and both have "a special place in their hearts" for each other.

I guess the difference is that they have developed this dear friendship on their own - not through us pushing them. There's never any of that "Is he your boyfriend?" talk. Both families realize that these two kids have a special friendship and it is a sweet thing.

In our culture, there is really this push to begin playing at adulthood - not in a sweet, childlike way (playing house, etc), but in a sexually charged way.

I like your ideas about helping Calvin find a way to reach out with Christ's love to those "outside"!

I think I'm totally rambling here, and I don't think it's getting any, I'll stop.

Catherine said...

Nice. :)

I like the approach of making it a day to celebrate love, in all its forms. Which, come to think of it, is how it began. Love for your kids, your spouse, your siblings, your parents, your friends, your coworkers, your neighbors, those people you pass on the street. That way, there's never a void you need to rashly fill (No boyfriend on Valentine's day syndrom) and it becomes a more robust and fulfilling experience.

wheelsonthebus said...

I just wish they wouldn't do cards at the school. So much pressure on the parents!