Posted by: laughs4dads | February 12, 2010

Valentine’s Day

Ah, February 14th.  A day when couples express their undying love for each other, when florists pad their retirement accounts, and when husbands compete for the coveted title of “Purchaser of Largest Heart-Shaped Box of Chocolates on the Way Home From Work.”

For parents and their children, however, Valentine’s Day is a day of worry, angst and heartbreak.

For younger children, we must be fully up-to-speed on the social etiquette of preschool and elementary school Valentine exchanging.  Does everyone in the class get one?  Just the opposite gender?  Is it a secret Valentine where each child draws a name?  Is it laissez-faire with every little kid giving Valentines to whoever she pleases?  Surely not; it would be sheer anarchy!

Does your kid have to sign each Valentine?  Are store-bought ones okay, or should they be cut out from red construction paper and adorned with lace hearts?  Does each one need to bear the name of the recipient, or can they all be the same?  And how can you possibly console a 7-year-old who has given a Valentine to someone who has not reciprocated?  (Hint: Often, ice cream works.)

As kids get older, the trauma becomes greater.  Valentines can no longer be distributed willy-nilly; a card is given only after an amount of deliberation equivalent to the thought that will one day be put into getting married.  The card is chosen with the utmost care: the message it contains must be exactly appropriate to the perceived state of the relationship.  Is it too mushy?  Too definitive?  Too cutesy?  Too immature?  Too risque?  Is it an invitation to take things further?  An indication of interest?  A declaration of love?  Will it scare the recipient off?  Give the wrong impression?  Commit either party to a monogamous relationship?

This is, indeed, an awful lot of pressure put on a $1.50 purchase decision.

And then how does one sign it?  This may be the only time in a young person’s life when a thesaurus is consulted.  How many ways are there to say “love” without actually saying “love?”  The teenager constructs a mental image of a scale with “like” on one end and “love” on the other.  The selected sentiment has to strike a precisely calibrated balance between the two.

And if a teenage girl’s Valentine is not reciprocated, Baskin and Robbins ain’t gonna solve the problem.  This is when the $1.50 purchase decision becomes thousands of dollars worth of therapy.

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