I took a few minutes to check Facebook and Twitter, seeing all the Valentine’s Day posts. And I said to myself, “Hmmm, I wonder if I’ve ever written about Valentine’s Day, from any perspective? And I hadn’t, so here are some thoughts and reflections.”
Valentine’s Day not on my radar as a kid. Not sure why, but no boy friends and not something family or friends celebrated. Married at 19 my first “Valentine” was my husband. Not a lot of spare cash, but a big heart and wonderful notes. “You are my Valentine, now and forever. Save this coupon (delightfully decorated card), and the ones to follow, and one day you can redeem for your dream gift.” We’d laugh because I’d say, “Oh I have my dream gift, you! But I’ll hold you to it.” These coupons came on birthdays and anniversaries. Babies came along, busy life and coupons were few and far between. One day found in a drawer, we laughed and reminisced about the coupons and how they were redeemed many time over, with my dream gift.
A new twist and I became a teacher. Here Valentine’s Day became a “thing.” (My children went to a Jewish Day School, no valentines there. As they went on to public school, friendships changed, Valentine’s Day became a thing.) In the early childhood programs, arts and crafts, finger paint with pinks, reds and purple and Valentines Bags to take home cards. Party with treats to celebrate the day. No one left out. You make a card for everyone! I know, the parent project some dreaded. Kept parties under control. It worked. Teacher treats shared with my family along the way. (David 9, Marni 7 more or less when I started teaching.) Fast forward to kindergarten, Valentine’s Day a big thing. Arts and crafts, making bags to take home valentines. Everyone makes one, everyone gets one. We read books, we set aside time to distribute the cards. Kinders learn each other’s name. Make sure to put the right card in the right bag. Learning patience, taking turns and handling frustrations. “When is it my turn?” heard in the background as they wait. Valentines Day party. The day arrives. Parents sign up to participate. Certain no, no’s. No balloons, limit the sweets, no elaborate goodie bags. Have fun with it, we say to the parents. If not sure, check in with us. And for the most part through the years, they have. Will leave it at that! Grade levels coordinate, decide how much to do, or not. End of the day, see happy faces at dismissal.
And that’s the best thing about Valentine’s Day at school. Playing field really equalized. No child left behind. No child is excluded. No child crying it’s not fair. Every child has a treat. Every child plays the games (Choosing what to do is up to them; some may need teacher guidance if it becomes too overwhelming to participate.), every child leaves with goodie bag treats and his/her her bag filled with VALENTINES!
Happy Valentine’s Day friends. I tweeted earlier that “It’s more then the chocolates and cards, it’s a day to take a deep breath and let someone know you care and they matter to you! Especially to the kids in your room, who may not have that, someone, yet.