“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” ~Charles M. Shulz
So, my son started Kindergarten this year and I’m quickly learning that a lot has changed since I made my way through the public school system.
I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s when people didn’t care all that much about your feelings, so this whole, everybody get’s a Valentine thing is new to me.
When I was in elementary school, I loved Valentine’s Day. I spent days preparing my tacky Valentine’s box with construction paper hearts, feathers, stickers and paper doilies.
On Valentine’s Day, we placed our boxes on our desks and walked around our classroom depositing Valentines and treats into the boxes of our friends. Our enemies could go right on ahead and choke on a box of those chalky conversation hearts for all we cared.
I lived in a really small town and most of the kids in my class were kids I had a history with from prior grades.
I never gave a Valentine to a kid named Olin who had a harelip. Not because of the harelip, but because he cut a chunk out of my hair in Kindergarten and I never let go of a grudge.
I also refused to deposit a Valentine into the box of a kid named Bobby, who used to pick his nose and wipe it on all the girls. To this day, anyone with the name Bobby makes me want to vomit.
And I spent years campaigning to blacklist a girl named Roberta, who beat me up, EVERY DAY, on the playground in second grade. That is, until I told my gramma, who arrived at the school one afternoon during dismissal and confronted Roberta using a variety of clever obscenities none of us really understood, but delighted in repeating whenever possible.
Not only could we exclude our classmates, but because nobody actually looked at the Valentine’s we were passing out, we were free to send hate mail too.
I got a few and I gave a few.
In middle school, we gave up the Valentine boxes and instead we got to purchase candy heart lollipops for fifty-cents in the cafeteria, to be delivered, with a note, to anyone we chose.
Throughout the week of Valentine’s Day, our classes would be disrupted by a knock at the door and the candy courier would walk in and announce who the lucky recipient was. Which of course made the rest of us feel like ugly, unlovable ducklings.
My friends and I sent candy hearts to one another, but mostly I sent them to myself and claimed they were from a secret admirer. I wanted the candy and I wanted to make the other girls jealous.
I also sent one to my seventh grade science teacher, because he was smokin’ hot for a middle-aged science teacher and I hoped to woo him away from his wife and kids, apparently.
In high school, candy hearts were replaced with single stem roses. The concept played out the same way. The roses were purchased for a dollar and delivered throughout the school day. Tables were set up before school, in the hallways between classes and during lunch, allowing ample opportunity for rose purchases.
Girls with boyfriends ended the school day with a dozen roses by final bell. Girls without boyfriends told everyone it was because those girls put out….because it was really the only way to save face when walking through the dismissal crowd without a single rose.
Honestly, all of it sucked. There were years in elementary school when my friends and I got into huge fights over Barbies and who got to be the teacher when we played school. We teamed up against one another and if Valentine’s Day happened to fall during a rumble, things could get ugly.
“Nobody give a Valentine to Laura….she’s bossy and she’s got a knock off Cabbage Patch.”
In middle school and high school, the number of candy heart lollipops and roses you received were symbols of how popular and well liked you were compared to others. Clearly, there was something wrong with you if NOBODY thought you worthy of fifty-cents or a dollar.
So, I think it’s better that kids these days are expected to spread kindness equally on Valentine’s Day.
They’ll have plenty of time as adults to be biter and cynical when the day ends without a bouquet and takeout for one.
And by then, they can acquire alcohol.