Thursday, February 11, 2016

Valentines or Not? That's the Question

By Anna M.

Tomorrow, by this time, both of my boys will probably come home with a package full of Valentine's cards and candies. It's a curious and fragile moment. They might be surprised about some demonstration of affection as they will also probably be resentful if there's a card missing, from someone they really care for. I suffer with them. It hurts not to be appreciated or to have to show that you like someone you barely know. And that, for me, poses the whole dilemma of Valentines cards and all the emotions involved in the activity, specially for kids.

The drama, though, is triggered days before the event. They share some excitement and some frustration about the whole process of writing cards or compliment hearts. Mostly because as the school instructs, if they decide to send cards, it has to be to all their classmates.  Because of that my 5th grader 11-years old decided not to deliver any. His idea is simple: "Nobody really minds mom, because we can't possibly give candy to everybody and it really doesn't mean anything", he says. I have my doubts that he is totally aloof. But then, it's on my call to respect his point.

As they learn in 2nd and 3rd grade, the date is an opportunity to share friendship and acknowledge the bright side of each of their colleagues. It's when they normally would call for my help: "Mom, how can I say something nice to someone I don't like"?, asks the 9 years old. I am always puzzled. But as a sensible and responsible parent I choose to support the school's strategy: "There has to be something that you like in that person. Just relax and think about that". So, few day ago, I saw him writing compliment hearts with very creative stuff. Something like "Dear friend, I really like your handwriting", or "You play soccer so well".

For me it's always a learning curve. Sharing the way you feel about someone (not spontaneously) is something I culturally don't understand. On the other hand, looking at the bright side of any personality certainly is a positive teaching. I feel like when practicing that emotion sharing, you open new perceptions on how to accept people's diverse personality and observe them closely. I like the fact that my younger kid had a chance of thinking about each of his classmates, in a moment of reflection.

But my 11 years old is not a believer: "I think that, for a kid in elementary school, Valentine's Day is just a commercial stunt to sell candy and other useless junk. If you really like someone, buy something that is meaningful to them and hand-deliver it to them.".  That said (he personally wrote this), I am grateful that this are his ideas. I hope that his best friends share the same vision.

*Anna is Povi's Content Manager, a chef and a journalist.

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