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The Perils Of Valentines Day

We survived another Valentines Day: an entire day of poor-quality candy given out with alarming frequency and absolutely no censorship whatsoever, along with a class party filled with cupcakes and ice cream sundaes and cookies and . . . you get the picture.

Every year we walk through the Sugar Minefield, and this year it claimed Maddie as its victim; her meltdown Friday afternoon was colossal. CoLOSSal. I thought we were going to have to cancel the dinner we had planned with a near-and-dear friend in from out of town. But she pulled herself together, and admitted she could tell she’d had too much sugar.

Progress, I think.

This year, though, in addition to the whole sugar overload, I saw the other frightening tightrope of Valentines Day for the first time: the whole girl-boy dynamic.

Maddie and Cora both gave Frozen Valentines cards this year, and after Maddie had printed hers and cut them all up she agonized over which one to give which person. She didn’t want to give one with Christophe on it to a boy, lest he think she was suggesting a relationship to him; nor did she want to give one with Olaf on it to a good friend, in case it was seen as Maddie not seeing her friend as an equal, but a lesser side-kick.
Not kidding, these were her thoughts.
We didn’t hand out candy with our valentines, but attached tattoos to each one, and Maddie and Cora decisively went through all the tattoos and divided them into boy/girl piles. By the time Friday morning came and the valentines were all safely within the decorated boxes I was sick of the whole thing.

Who am I kidding, I’m always sick of Valentines Day. Made-up holiday.

Anyway, I thought it was all just my kid until a good friend of mine mentioned her son had gone through the same thing – carefully selecting valentines for girls that IN NO WAY insinuated he’d like to go deeper with them. Since he’s in my daughter’s class, my friend described the valentine he’d chosen for Maddie: A cat holding a sign that says, “You’re adorable”, with chocolate hearts around it. He’d decided this was preferable for two reasons: one, he thought dog cards were better for boys; and two, he decided “you’re adorable” was preferable to the other cat card, which said “Be my valentine”.

Which he decidedly was not requesting of Maddie.

I laughed that he’d put all this thought into it, imagining Maddie would see it, shrug, and add it to her pile.

That night, though, as Maddie was going through her box, she came across this valentine. “Look, here’s one from Carl!” she said. “Aw, it says ‘you’re adorable’! I didn’t know he thought I’m adorable! And look – it’s a cat and chocolates! Two of my favorite things! He’s very observant! He must know me really well. Hmmm . . .”

And she trailed off.

Uh oh.


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