Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Dear World: Please Be My Valentine

I've just stuffed twenty valentines into twenty envelopes complete with twenty chocolates nicked from our office candy bin. Good grief America! Once again you've stymied me with your cultural holiday-a-palooza. I was really hoping to avoid this valentine-a-thon being as how Anna is only two and a half and the only thing she could possibly do with a Valentine is eat it, but then I found a 'Starfish class list' in Anna's pigeonhole at school yesterday and knew I was sunk. Yes my daughter is a 'Starfish', something I found out literally months into her preschool life which finally explained why she kept asking me if I was a 'Starfish friend'. I had been thinking we had a budding marine biologist on our hands, but no.

LK and I did have a lot of fun the other night drafting Anna's Valentine messages; 'Dear Shanti, I know you think you're cool with your organic individually crafted packed lunches, but you can share my PB&J if you fancy slumming it'. My fave was 'Dear Jack, have enjoyed checking out your delicious diaper-less arse from afar. How about a drink sometime?'. That sounds like Anna. In the end I went with the safe, vanilla option (moi?) and in each card I stuck to 'Dear Blah, Happy Valentines Day, Anna', even though some of these kids clearly do not go to school on a day that Anna does and have I ever met Jaia or Riley, and are they even male or female?

Nothing illustrates the difference between the UK and the US better than Valentines Day. In the UK, it's about sending that one person you fancy a secret card, poem or if you're really hard-up for a shag, maybe a small present. It's about romantic love and trying to get laid. Over here it's Love Inc ™. Everyone sends everyone else a valentine, because to miss someone out would be discrimination and we'd hate that wouldn't we? Our local parents.org (or similar) had an article about a woman with three children who started to rethink her plan to handcraft each valentine after completing only five of the seventy-five that she was required to make for her kids classes. WTF lady? Who would even embark on such a sisyphean task? I wouldn't get as far as Michaels to shop for supplies. Maybe things have changed since I was at school (sound of chalks on slates), do British children now have to bring a Valentine for every other child in attendance?

When I first moved here I was completely freaked out when Lance's Mum sent me a valentine. There was me thinking 'gosh thanks, but it's actually your son I'm after'. Just as well she didn't get him this years gift at the time, otherwise I would have probably run for the hills:

Nothing says 'I love you son' like Valentines pants.

I suppose the easy thing would be to claim cultural ignorance and avoid the issue entirely, but as I've learned with this whole parenting caper, it's not about me is it? I don't want Anna to be left out. I want her to have fun. I made the chuffing valentines. Given my history though I'm sure we'll be walking through the school gates this morning with our bag full of valentines only to be pulled aside by a teacher saying 'the class list was for informational purposes only Mrs K, we're not doing valentines today and certainly not chocolates, for Pete's sake they're only two'.

Anyway, happy Valentines day bloggy readers. I want to shag you all.


mcCutcheon said...

*bangs head against wall*
You're not alone, Ali!
I don't get Valentine's Day. Much less the American kind.

Expatmum said...

Yes - a total minefield. Fortunately my 4 year old has a very experienced and sensible teacher who said that each child should bring ONE Valentine's decoration for the class. Phew! We had a great time glueing glitter, feathers and gummies(?) onto a large pink heart, and that was that.
But surely you're not allowed to send PB&J (peanut allergies) in to school?

jenny cook said...

happy valentine's day ali!

i'm not all into valentine's day that much, but i do love the chocolate it brings with it! :)

Anonymous said...

That post is hilarious. One Valentine's Eve I stayed up well into the wee hours making heart shaped Rice Krispy treats outlined with red frosting and each child's initials in the center. I'm glad I got over that...and so are my teenage sons. Chilly

Mary said...

This post was great! I love the valentines to "Shanti" and "Jack"! ha ha ha Can you imagine!?!?

Almost American said...

I'm getting used to the system here - I actually knew enough to go loking through DD's bookbag to find the necessary class list!

Last year I made heart shaped cookies for DD to take to school for her class. Not content with making heart shaped cookies, I had to make some chocolate and some vanilla, then I cut the middles out and swapped them, so the vanilla ones had chocolate hearts in the center and vice versa. Of course (!) I had to leave some plain vanilla, and some plain chocolate to account for different preferences, and then figure out how many extras I'd need to make to make sure that everyone got their preference . . . It sounded so simple before I got started. Never again! El cheapo mini cards (with tattoos!) from the supermarket for everyone.

Getting Valentines from the in-laws is just creepy!

ExpatKat said...

When I landed here 3yrs ago, 'The Little Guy' was in kindergarten. Naturally, when the class list arrived I sat down with him and my then 5th grader to make the cards. What a chore!! But we were proud of the results.

When they came home on valentines with their haul, there were all these tiny cards with Scooby Doo or Hello Kitty on them - mass produced for this express purpose! Guess what I do now?!

Amy said...

a little over rated, don't ya think?!?

Iota said...

I think you analyse the UK/US difference very well. It's just another opportunity for kids to have an obscene amount of sugar and pink food coloring. I hate it.

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