As if Valentine's Day isn't awkward enough already, it's even awkward-er this year. Can I use that word? You'll allow it, won't you? My kids made up the word to describe how they feel about Valentine's Day at school this year. I remember the party at school being awkward, but it's being taken to a whole new level for kids who have to celebrate the 'holiday' in school. Let's put air quotes around the holiday because Valentine's day isn't a real holiday to begin with. It's more of a Hallmark holiday. Why we celebrate it is beyond me. I've always hated the feelings that come along with celebrating the day of love, mostly because the emotions it evokes have nothing to do with love at all.
"Behind the anger, behind the disrespect, and behind the manipulation is a scared child in desperate need of connection, love, and acceptance... If you show up for your child in a different state, he can only be different... When you are in a loving state, you automatically do the right thing... Love never fails." —Heather T. Forbes
Think back to when you were a kid and when you're scared to death that no one would give you a valentine. Perhaps your deepest longing was to receive a card from a particular person, and you scoured every word looking for a mention of love and feelings that you wanted to be true. The converse also happens when you accidentally put the wrong name on the card that's a love message to a boy or girl. The class erupts in laughter, and you get the "Jill and Tom sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First, comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage" song as everyone pokes fun.
The best part, perhaps the only salvation of enduring Valentine's day at school, is the candy. To go through the quirky happenings of an awkward day kids don't really understand anyway, there's got to be an upside somewhere. It has to be in the candy. Kids look forward to receiving a sugary high. At least the high helps to over-ride emotions kids don't know how to deal with as they fly around the room. The conversation hearts on the bingo game and eating them instead of actually playing bingo and then sneaking over to get more hearts are some of the best memories.
Yeah, but it's even awkward-er this year.
Part of the fun of Valentine's Day was decorating the box. We've always enjoyed this part of the celebration. We'd break out all of the craft supplies and wrapping paper we could find. We'd cut, glue, and paint hearts for days. Often, the whole family contributed in some way to the mailbox flag, or how to configure the mailbox opening so the student could receive mail.
This year we still get to create the mailbox. at least that part is the same. But, it's different too. The box has to have a completely-lift-off, independent lid. Why? Well, that easy. Because kids can't touch each other's mailboxes. The cover must be completely removable so that no one will touch anyone else's mailboxes while delivering their mail.
As an extra precaution, your mailbox has to be sent to school a week early. A curious detail that may have you wondering why. Because your student's mailbox has to sit in quarantine for an entire week at school, under the teacher's care, before it can be used on Valentine's Day.
What else will be different?
The natural inclination to lick an envelope after signing valentine cards must be avoided. Any cards that have been licked closed will not be allowed to be used. In current times, this is a good change. Cards must be sealed with one itty bitty piece of tape, just enough to hold the envelope closed. Cards will be distributed on the day they arrive at school, and then they will go into quarantine. Highly important is that students only touch their own box.
And, of the utmost importance, is the most significant change. There will be absolutely no candy. The only thing that made Valentine's Day worth celebrating at school is also removed--the joy of receiving candy. That's right, no conversation hearts, packages of gummy bears, no foil wrapped chocolates, and absolutely no Fun Dip.
Our family has taken social distancing seriously. Having been sick, we know exactly what the sickness was like, and now that our immunities have worn off, we can catch the virus again. Schools are still open, even though some aren't sure the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. I'm not sure we'd be going into anyone's house anytime soon, much less to dine, but if we still have this school celebration, can't we have individually wrapped and sealed candy too? I'm not a huge fan of all the candy, but such an awkward time it seems kids should be able to hold onto something that makes the day more tolerable. If the valentines can go into quarantine, can't a little nonperishable candy go with them too?
Not having the candy makes my kids want to puke. Okay, it's not quite that bad, but they ask, "why bother?" Celebrating Valentine's Day at school is all about the candy--at least to them. They're not even interested in making mailboxes this year. They ask the same question, "why bother?" If students can't, or don't want to decorate a mailbox, the teacher will supply a brown bag. And we all know what a little brown bag is for.
Let's take an awkward school engagement, take all the fun out of it, and make it even more uncomfortable. The event, as it is set to happen has kids on the verge of puking. As if the twisted up gut feelings of the emotions surrounding the event aren't bad enough already.
Celebrating Valentine's Day at school is even more BS than usual, and that's saying quite a lot.
Can't we skip the whole engagement?
We've taken an awkward time and made it awkward-er. Why bother at all?