Tag Archives: Valentine’s Day

Praise cheeses

I’ve spent the past few days layered in tracksuit bottoms and wrapped in blankets, mainlining herbal tea and being completely uninterested in baked goods. Yesterday I suddenly felt that muffins were missing from my life and this morning I actually took an interest in what I was wearing – I’m better! I have the zeal of the newly converted: everything is wonderful, even the feckin’ snow and the two-hour-delay AGAIN and the massive mess of my house; because I am whole once again. I was certain I was dying of consumption or ebola (thanks Ciara) or possibly a relapse of Lyme disease even though I took all the antibiotics last autumn, but it turns out it was just a virus and lo, my health is returned to me and I am victorious and also somewhat sheepish about having been, as usual, such a melodramatic hypochondriac.

Saturday was Valentine’s day, and the children gave us many cards, after an unforeseen uptick in crafting, cutting, glueing, drawing, and generally spreading paper around the house. I had to quickly throw together a card for Mabel, who was feeling hard done by that she’d made all these cards for other people but nobody had done one for her, so I made a quick one for B too, who had bought a lovely loaf of apple cinnamon bread on his way home from his run that morning, so everyone was happy and that was the extent of our marital celebrations of the auspicious date. We’re such diehard romantics, dontcha know.

Mabel gave me a note that said “You look as good as cookies smell”, which was just the loveliest sentiment. I was delighted. Then she gave me this, saying “You used to go to church so I thought you’d like one.” I was lost for words.

Pink paper crucifix with "Jeesis" written on it.

Because, as a friend said, nothing says Happy Valentine’s Day like Jeesis on a cross.


Transatlantic Subtleties: Valentines for beginners

It’s that time of year again. The time when the worth of your parenting is measured in how long you are willing to spend coaxing your preschooler, or kindergartener, or however-many-classes-they-hope-to-keep-up-this-charade-for-er into coloring, cutting, sticking, folding, or just writing their name over and over. Not to mention how much time and/or effort you’ve put into it yourself, because if you’re no good at crafting your child is going to be branded forever as a bad person: a non-Valentine-giver.

I don’t think this happens in Ireland. It certainly didn’t when I was small. Valentines were for teenagers with crushes, parents boringly sending each other the required tokens of affection, couples holding hands in restaurants, people who get engaged without recourse to imagination. Valentine’s Day was mostly for hunkering down and hoping your Dad didn’t send you one because he felts sorry for you when you didn’t have a boyfriend.

In America, Valentines are not for lovers. Not under the age of 10, at any rate. (And I hope not for several years after that; but I’m not clear on whether there’s actually a sweet spot when the average American tween can blissfully ignore the whole Hallmark production of Feb 14th.) In America, Valentines are things your small child brings to school and hands out to everyone in the class, whether they like it or not, whether they like them or not. Valentines are mandatory signs of friendship, and therefore utterly worthless except for, as I have mentioned, allowing all the other parents, and the teachers, to judge your parenting/crafting/shopping skills and find them sadly lacking.

If you don’t want to spend the weeks after Christmas knee-deep in Pinterest ideas and up to your armpits in craft supplies, you can buy Valentines in handy packs of 25 at Target, or the supermarket. They just take a bit of folding and maybe a sticker and it’s all done. If you take that option you can choose to feel like a cop-out parent, or you can slap yourself on the back for a tedious job well done with minimal effort, it’s totally up to you. You can even choose to ignore the whole thing, but on your own head be it. And then your child will quite possibly come home from school with a bag full of candy, because the other name for this holiday is Pink Halloween. (Sometimes they give/get pencils, or erasers, but it’s never called Pink School Supplies Day.)

So in this house this year, the kindergartener is expected to show up on Thursday with 25 Valentines signed with her name but not personally designated per classmate, because then it takes too long to hand them out individually. Not for the first time, I have made use of Secret Agent Josephine’s lovely printables, and since we don’t have a colour printer she had the extra fun of getting to colour them in herself as well as cutting them out and writing her name on the back, which basically makes me crafting mother of the decade around here.

The third grader so far has not mentioned any requirement for Valentines. I hope he doesn’t discover one on Thursday night, because he doesn’t enjoy colouring as much as his sister does.

(I may have written pretty much this exact same post in past years. I haven’t gone back to check. You don’t need to either.)

Coloured-in cut-out printed Valentines

Mabel’s Valentines



Angels in the architecture / spinning in infinity

My past and my present are squashed into one moment, right here right now.

B put Negotiations and Love Songs on tonight while we were eating dinner. “Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes” and “You Can Call me Al” and “Me and Julio down by the School Yard” are songs I can sing all the words to without even being aware that I’m doing it, but then it got to “Something So Right.” And it sends me straight back in Boston in 1993, looking at summer sunlight on splintery wooden floors in a rental condo full of Irish students, feeling absolutely positively in love, swooping and reeling with the words of the song and the amazement of being 20 and finding out that it’s all true and hoping with all my heart that he feels it too.

And now I’m sitting here looking at our children.


The approach of Valentine’s Day, mind you, fills me with ennui. It’s not about the husband; we are happily united in our decision to pretty much ignore it. But the children, or at least the pre-schooler, is not merely expected but actually required to bring a Valentine for everyone in her class; so much so that we were e-mailed the list of names at the weekend so that nobody would be left out. Now, a pre-school Valentine is not much – a square of cardboard, maybe a heart shape, store-bought or home-made, with or without a Hershey’s kiss, pink pencil, or other such tiny offering. But SIGH, it’s another THING I have to DO. She’s not the one who will download some cute printables or pick something up in Target or, heck, pull out a sheet of pink construction paper (as if we had such a thing to hand): I am.

I don’t even know if the second-grader is meant to do anything. He’s off school that day, so maybe we can just pretend it’s not happening. I don’t know at what age Valentines stop being a “friends” (that is, classmates, not actual friends) thing and start being a romantic thing in this country. Does he have a few years to go yet? He’s not a tween till he turns 8, right? I still have a couple of months in hand.


In Boston in 1993 I did not ever look forward to this point. When you’re twenty you will never ever be forty, boring, going to school board meetings for the thrill of it. Life is a blank canvas and the world is yours to conquer.

And when you fall in love when you’re twenty, you can just be in love and not worry about what’s going to happen in the future.


However, as the man said, still crazy after all these years.




Last night, all over this great continent, some people were primping and priming themeselves and their wardrobes in preparation for today’s celebration of love. Others were scrambling to order flowers online or find a card at the second-last minute. But everyone I know was cursing their children’s classmates for their hard-to-spell names and their sheer numbers, and wrestling with printers or glue or tape or stickers, and wondering just how upset a class of three-, four-, five-, six-, or seven-year-olds would be if they didn’t get a Valentine’s card from every single other classmate.

Well, I’ll tell you this afternoon, becuase my two went in with nary a card to their names. (That means nothing.)

Last week, as I think I mentioned, I was delighted to find some cute pre-made Valentine’s cards in the local store. I got a pack of superhero ones for Dash, princess ones for Mabel. They, in turn, were also delighted, and sat down forthwith to write in the “To” and “From” names and seal them with a sticker. That was all they had to do. Crafts are for the birds, I thought. This is perfect.

They both got about halfway through their class lists. “That’s great,” I announced. We’ll do a few more each day and by next Thursday they’ll all be ready.”
“Not so fast,” said Fate to me.

The next day, Dash’s teacher sent home a note saying that everyone should bring in 24 blank envelopes and a packet of candy hearts on Thursday. The blank envelopes confused me for a while – should there be anything inside them? How would the cards get to the right people if their names weren’t on the outsides? Also, our cards didn’t come with envelopes. Also also, I try to minimize the candy, especially the no-redeeming-features sugar-and-Red-40 type candy. If everyone brings in a pack, there’s going to be a lot of candy in the classroom. (They plan to use them for math before eating them. So that makes it fine, right?)

A short consultation with Facebook enlighted me about the envelopes: what she meant was that the Valentines should have a sender’s name but no recipient’s name, for ease of distribution. Which makes it only almost, but not absolutely entirely, pointless. But Dash had done half the names already. Should he finish up the rest or not?

The decision was made by Dash deciding not to do any more, and not to bring any in. Mabel also fell off the wagon and gave up on her cards, so this morning I said:

“Right, are either of you bringing in Valentines today?”
“No,” they chorused cheerfully.
“Okay then.”

I did not say “Well, how will you feel if you’re the only child who doesn’t give cards in your class?” For one thing, the four-year-olds won’t notice. For another, the six-year-olds probably won’t either. And for the most part, I don’t like being held hostage by Hallmark, the craft industry, the school, and some imaginary set of judgemental parents for yet another thing to think I should nag my children about if I want to be a good mother.

My children did not bring in any cards today. I’m fine with that. (But if I meet you I’ll probably apologise profusely, just to be on the safe side.)

Consumer index

I panicked at Target this morning.

So many of Target’s success stories probably start out that way. And by success stories I mean times they parted people from way more of their money than they went in intending to be parted from.

So I went in to get a pack of crayons for Dash (yes, we have eleventy million crayons in the house, but he needed a new pack for school, and taking some brand-new practically unused crayons out of our big box and putting them into a smaller box would not do, in spite of the fact that he and his sister scorn everything but markers at home but I digress) and maybe a couple of other school supplies his teacher said they were running short on (scissors; how do kids run out of scissors? What are they doing with them? Using them to cut up other pairs of scissors?) and some toothpaste because he won’t use the new “clean squeeze” tube I just got because it’s too minty, damnit, even though he likes mint, and then I thought maybe some new bathtub foam letters for Mabel to keep the grand universal scales of “you bought something for one child” level…

… and then I got to the Star Wars section of the toys and suddenly worried that Target would stop promoting Star Wars all of a sudden, because maybe something else is the next big thing and now that Disney has Star Wars (even though with JJ Abrams at the helm everyone knows that it’s going to be absolutely the thing to see, but maybe the 6-year-old set aren’t so well up on JJ Abrams’s oeuvre, not having watched all of Alias, probably) perhaps the cool kids won’t want lightsabers by April so I bought the damn Darth Maul red double-blade lightsaber that Dash has been begging for since some time last summer.

(I got into big, huge, trouble with him one night a few weeks ago when he suddenly remembered that he had thought he might get one for Christmas and then he didn’t, and I was the worst, cruelest mother on the planet (and probably also on Alderaan and Tatooine) for not giving him a double-blade for Christmas when I had promised I would (note: I hadn’t) and I should go out the very next morning and get him a double-blade to make up for it and when I wouldn’t agree that this was clearly the correct way for me to atone for my sins, he threw a long, long hissy that still gets revisited from time to time when he remembers to be very upset about the whole incident.)

So there, fine, now he’s getting his double-blade for his birthday (at the end of April; never say I don’t plan ahead), because you can’t just go out and buy people big presents when it’s not Christmas or birthday or the culmination of some long-worked-for sticker-chart extravaganza.

(In related news, Mabel is plotting how she can get another baby sooner than her November birthday. She asked me the other day if we could do another star chart for her using the toilet, since that worked so well the last time. I pointed out that she knew how to do that now, so no, that wouldn’t work. I wonder how I can leverage this desire of hers into some sort of necessary behaviour?)

But despite having the entire cave of wonders at my child-free-browsing disposal, I still didn’t manage to find anything nice or unexpected or quirky or even predictable to give my beloved husband on the occassion of tomorrow’s Annoying Hallmark Holiday. Looks like he’s getting two delightful children. Again.

Hey, this year they’re potty trained. It gets better.