“Mom! We’re having a Valentine’s party on Friday! There’s a list in my folder.”
The list. The tears and stomping and yelling of last year must have dissolved in a chocolate and red dye 40 haze. For him, anyway.
Every time Valentine’s Day rolls around I think, fuck it. This is the year we’re marching into Rite Aid, I’ll stand back and let him choose the most heinous licensed character cards he can find. The ones accompanied with the tiny envelopes that barely fit. I’ll fork over the 5 bucks and we’ll be on our way. He can scrawl his name a couple dozen times, maybe the name of the recipient on the outside if he’s feeling jazzed about it. No fights. No tears.
But I’m a glutton for punishment. Inevitably I feel like some maternal prowess weighs on the pinterest worthiness of the tokens of “love” (torture) churned out at the kitchen table sweatshop. Because the elementary school child whose decorated milk carton it is slid into is really judging the creative use of washi tape.
So yesterday we trudged to the craft store and spent $11 on cardstock, a silver pen, and tape. (And an additional $6 on shitty chocolate at the grocery store.) The idea was simple. One silver stripe drawn down the center of the card. Bits of tape on one end of the line to make the end of the arrow, a heart shaped chocolate taped at the front to form the point, and using letter stamps we already had, I’d head off the handwriting meltdowns. Simple, effective, and only slightly over budget.
It started out fine. I made an example and handed over the reins. In the interest of efficiency and minimizing the potential for a meltdown, I suggested he start by drawing the lines first. After about 10, they started to look like they’d been drawn while he was being dragged behind a horse.
“Dude. Stop. Look at the last few lines you just drew. Is that the best you can do?”
“I don’t think so. Start again and just do your best, ok?”
Heaved sigh number one.
I began to collect the neatly completed ones and affixed the colored tape. As he wrapped up the line drawing, I handed him the bag of letter stamps to find the ones he needed to spell his name.
” Mom, can you find them for me? They’re all jumbled up in there.” (This being the same child who earlier requested help locating ice cream. ICE CREAM. There is exactly 9 cubic feet in the ENTIRE HOUSE in which that could be located. USE YOUR EYEBALLS AND HANDS AT THE SAME TIME.)
Deep inhale number one.
“No. I can not. I’m a little busy.”
Heaved sigh number two.
He rifleed around a minute or two and came up with the four stamps required.
“Ok. I’ve got them. Now what?”
“Now you pick a color and stamp your name where ever you want. Pick a corner. Then put it aside to dry and do it again on the next card. We’ll fill in your classmates names last since you’ll have to find the letters for them each time.”
“How about I just do the first person on the list so we can see what it looks like when it’s all done?”
“Fine. But keep your four letters separate so you don’t have to find them again.”
I kept rolling with the taping while he stamped.
“Look! It’s all done!”
“That’s great! Do you like them?”
“Yeah. They look cool. I’ll do another. Where’s the K?”
“I told you to leave your name to the side. Is it right there?”
“Uggggggghhhhhhhh. You didn’t say that. I put them in the pile. And stamping really hurts your hand because you have to push really hard and…”
Deep inhale number two.
He combed through the pile and located the letters again, then stamped his name at the bottom.
Figuring he’s on track to crank out his name on the rest of them, I stepped out of the room. It was only a minute or two before he groaned that groan that suggests the cascade of complaints is not far away.
“What’s the problem?”
“I started too close to the edge and now the name won’t fit!”
“Ok. I thought your were just doing your name.”
He then began blinking back tears and as he kicked into defense mode speak-yelled “I WAS BUT THEN I DECIDED TO DO ONE MORE AND IT DOESN’T FIT.”
We started this project at 6:30. After a full day of school and errands. The time of day that sometimes feels like skipping happily though the woods one minute and tripping face first over a rock into a steaming pile the next.
Then, I made the rookie mistake.
I basically should have suggested he slit his wrists with the card stock. The cascade became a flood as I slowly gathered up the supplies and for the night.
You got me this year, Pinterest Valentine’s guilt. Next year, you’ll find me in the seasonal aisle of the grocery store with a smile on my face. Unless of course it’s actually the moms that are exchanging Valentines. Then I’m going balls out.