Valentine’s Day is around the corner. Oddly enough my first reminder of this every year is when the school sends home a list of all the student names so the parents can get a head start on preparing cards for each classmate. And each year I ask myself When did Valentine’s Day Become a Children’s Holiday??? I first realised how unnecessary this day was (for kids) when my daughter was 2-years-old. I blogged about it here. That was four years ago. She is now in Grade 1 and you know what?
I’m still not a fan of the day. I asked her recently what she thought Valentine’s Day was about. She shrugged nonchalantly and said, “I guess you’re supposed to make cards for your family and friends with hearts and you get chocolate and candies and oh yeah a class party!”
“Oh, so it’s the official holiday of the Card & Confectionary industry.”
Then she gave me that look. You know the one where your kid makes it clear you’re not funny. I probably sound like a crabby old miser – a scrooge who bah hum bugs all day long on how love is a farce and celebrating it is senseless. I have nothing against children acknowledging their affection for family and friends. But let’s be clear, Valentine’s Day is about romantic love, and you can thank Geoffery Chaucer for that. He was the first to refer to it as a special day for lovers in his poem The Parliament of Fowls. Prior to that it was related to stories of martyrdom.
It is understood that young children cannot distinguish between various kinds of love. To them the day is about drawing hearts. They don’t think twice about it. The problem arises when these children get older and become aware of the difference between platonic and romantic love. They become self-conscious. And this seems to be happening earlier with each generation. The day somehow moves beyond the simple exchange of cards and morphs into a competition about who is desired the most and by default, the least. Is this really what our kids needs to be dealing with, especially at an age when they are impressionable and developing their self-esteem?
It’s a red flag when some schools feel the need to implement the “everybody gets a card, or nobody gets a card’ rule. Something is not right when you now must place measures to protect your kids from the consequences of this day. And that is because Valentine’s Day should not have any business being in schools! You can’t have this particular ‘day of love’ celebrated one way for children and then another way for adults. Stop confusing them.
Kids have plenty of opportunities to celebrate love for their family i.e. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparent’s day, FAMILY Day. Do we really have to force this one on them? So once again, When did Valentine’s Day Become a Children’s Holiday?? And why?
I understand it’s hard to fight the big card/candy/flower industry lobby- they’ll make us look like the Grinch- soulless, black-hearted. But may I propose a slight change at the school-level? Would it be possible to teach the historical significance of this day (how it has evolved over the years) but focus on friendship, empathy and kindness instead? After all those are the defining fundamentals of love. Make it an inclusive lesson, where the students make cards for each of their classmates recognizing one of their strengths. Now wouldn’t that make our kids feel great, to be noticed and appreciated?
What are your thoughts on this ‘official day of love’? Should children be a part of it?
Images courtesy: The Write Balance