Do Toddlers need to exchange Valentines Cards?

stars, hearts and crumbs - valentine's art project

(Photo by woodlywonderworks via Flickr Creative Commons License)

Yesterday was all lovely dove-y… today I have a bit of a rant.

In short, in my opinion, no. Toddlers don’t need to exchange valentines day cards.

Yesterday, I went to pick up my not yet two year old from the Day-home. Now, the absolutely wonderful women who takes care of Audrey obviously really likes holidays. Or maybe she just likes the reason to make a couple days a year extra exciting for the kids. Or she has an intense love of crafts. Regardless, every holiday we get a homemade, toddler decorated card. Which is quite cute.

But along with our card this time was a little envelope of valentines day cards from some of the other kids. Now obviously I am not the only ‘bad’ Mom who didn’t even think of this.. there were only a couple cards. BUT. I thought we were still a good couple years away from Valentines Day cards.

But it brought to the forefront for me my feelings about Valentines Day and kids. Mainly that I think, at the very most it is totally unnecessary and at the very least it should be 90% kid led.

Valentines day is a hallmark holiday if I have ever seen one. My husband and I do use it as a good excuse to be extra nice to each other and plan a special day. Cause you can never get enough special days and extra excuses to be good to each other. Because when you’ve been together for almost 8 years and you have a toddler, you need all the excuses you can get.

But for kids? Especially toddlers who very likely didn’t say “Mother, I would like to hand out cards to every one of my friends. Could we please buy that package of Princess cards?” Here are my “con” arguments.

1) It is a waste of paper.

Now this might be a horrible thing to say. I am all for sharing loving sentiments with others and I love beautifully hand made cards. But when we are talking Valentines cards given by ‘toddlers’, we are talking those crappy perforated cards where the parent just fills in the “to” and “from”. It really seems like a waste of paper. We aren’t suppose to keep those are we? Cause ours went in the recycling bin.

2) It isn’t kid led.

We have had a fairly consistent view of holidays- they can be fun… but they should also be, at least in part, kid led. Same reason why Audrey hasn’t been to see Santa. Did she want to see Santa? Did she ask to give out Valentines day cards? At not even two years old, we wouldn’t be giving out Valentines cards for her, or even for her friends. We would be doing it for us or to show that we knew what one is ‘suppose’ to do as a parent. You know, I just wonder, who are we really doing this for? Correct me if I am wrong here.

It’s different with an older kid who ‘gets’ is and actually asks to participate actively in a holiday.

3) Commercialism

Just like everything else in the world of toddlers, every Valentines Day Card out there is Licensed Merchandise. Dora, Princess, Thomas, ect. ect. ect. It’s like an other big excuse to market to our kids and get them more deeply involved with the various characters they all become attached to. And you all know how I feel about that.

4) Obligatory ‘give one to everyone so no one is left out’ stuff

It’s not that I think it is great when some kid gets their feeling hurt because they were the only one in the class who didn’t get a card. I just think it is a rather pointless exercise for eveyone’s parents to buy every other parents kid in their kids class a valentines card (and often candy) on behalf of their child and exchange them. Why don’t we all just buy our own kids 25 cards and a bag of candy and be done with it? Because I know my kid needs candy and pictures of t.v. characters.

So, I am not doing Valentines cards. Until Audrey asks to and can write them and hand them out herself. Even better if she makes them, rather then pulling apart, along perforated edges, some Dora themed cards that come in packs of 20. And if she only wants to give them to 3 kids or all 40 she knows.. whatever. That is up to her.

Maybe my views on this will soften… they often do when faced with reality and peer pressure and you know, life. But right now, at first blush…. I am not a fan of this kids Valentines card thing.

In general, I don’t like ‘should’. I do believe in being kind and considerate and cognoscente of the impact of ones behaviours and choices on others.. but I think the world operates too much on us doing what we ‘should’ do, rather then being authentic and honest and doing what we want to do. I don’t like all the conventions.

Now, before you all roast me on a spit, I don’t think ill of anyone who does ‘do’ the valentines thing. I know it is done with the best intention. Sometimes we need an opportunity to remind each other that we mean something to each other. The parents who do send their kids with cards and candy or whatever, I assume do so because the kids probably like it and everyone is happy and why the heck not?

I am just a big cynic, that’s all.

Am I being a no fun, ridiculous, bah humbug? Do you think Toddlers should exchange Valentines Cards?

10 responses to “Do Toddlers need to exchange Valentines Cards?

  1. playgroundsnoop February 15, 2011 at 7:34 am

    No I don’t think they should. And I don’t think kids in school should all pass out Valentines to the whole class. I also think wishing people happy Valentines day is ridiculous. I actually enjoy Valentines day, but I think it is best used to remind you to pay a little extra attention to your significant other. And all the other stuff is crap.

  2. Sophie February 15, 2011 at 7:44 am

    Totally agree. In our newsletter from preschool this month it said “If you want to give Valentines this year bring them on the 10th. Here is a class list.” Our son didn’t get it, but on that day everyone gave cards to everyone. I find it stupid, but we did it, because if not our son would have been the only one left out. Compromise: we did home-made cards (there were 2 home-made, 12 purchased in his loot when he came home). And on the bright side, it gave them an excuse to practice writing their name and trying to read which card was for who. I still wish preschool didn’t do that…

  3. Perpetua February 15, 2011 at 8:00 am

    I’m with you. Until the kid really wants to do it and gets into it, it’s just silly and a waste, as you say. It also sucks that kids basically have to be trained to have “mandatory emotions” at such a young age.

    On the other hand, I DO send my parents a Valentine from E, but that’s really more of using the opportunity to say, “hey, thanks for taking such good care of me throughout the year” than anything else.

  4. clara February 15, 2011 at 9:02 am

    Last year I didn’t send cards to school with my 3 y/o (who barely knew any of his preschool classmate’s names!) for all those reasons. Also, I don’t believe in Valentines day. (Mostly, I think, because it’s my birthday and my partner’s birthday in the days before and by the 14th I am all good for love and chocolate cake. 🙂 ) But also because of the obligation, the bulltwaddle on the airwaves about Celebrating Love.

    We made cards for my now 4y/o’s preschool class. He drew a superhero on every single one. He got home from school with a bag full of cards and chocolate hearts and lollipops and I asked him what valentines day was about anyway. He said, oh it’s for giving people valentines! I said, but why? He said, I don’t know. At this age they just play along with whatever you tell them. Which is why it’s so important to me to tell him true things, not “love is communicated by little perforated pieces of paper with princesses / Hulk on them” (yes, there are ‘boy’ Valentines..not too ‘girly’ holy CRAP this gets my back up)

    In short. I agree with you. 4+ is a very social age and I knew he would be the only one without cards to give out (and he wanted to do it, and he helped me make them) so we did it. But I still think it’s bulltwaddle and if prompted, I will tell him how so. That’s my compromise.

  5. Briana February 15, 2011 at 10:09 am

    I started making Valentines with Wesley a month ahead because:
    – he was sad about Christmas being over, and V-Day is the next ‘big’ holiday, and
    – the boy love, love, LOVES to craft

    I was surprised to see what came home from preschool. I didn’t know Valentine’s Day is the new Halloween (as one of my Twitter friends put it). All but 3 cards were store-bought.

    Wesley was crestfallen. He knows the store-bought ones are different from his, and as far as he’s concerned they are not Valentines. The ones we made were simple red cut-out hearts, and with every one he decorated he talked about how much he loved his preschool friends. I learned a lot more about his life at school through our crafting conversations. Wesley is now convinced that his school friends “don’t love him” because they gave him perforated squares with Dora and racecars and Photoshopped dogs with dinnerplate eyes.

    I don’t buy that some parents don’t have time to make meaning within a Hallmark Holiday. My husband and I work full-time, we’ve got two kids and we’re both active in the community too. Being “crafty” isn’t a prerequisite either. Our cards were not beautiful but every one was made with love.

  6. Jocelyn February 15, 2011 at 11:57 am

    This is is such an interesting topic and one I just have to weigh in on. This year with my daugther being in morning Kindergarten and an afternoon ECS program we had about 40 classmates and 5 teachers to do cards for. Wanting to have her work on her “crafting” skills (she needs to work on her printing and scissor skills) I bought some constuction paper and stickers and we made our own. Yes, there was some resistance to the volume (from her) but I told her they were hers and I could not write her name for her. Towards the end we resorted to using her “name” stickers. We were amoung the very few that made our own. I do feel somewhat held captive by the tradition but I just can’t let my kid be that one that does not take part – how do you explain that to a 5 year old. One thing that did open my eyes was how much fun she had last night showing me all her cards and reading her friends names. She took such pride in this and they are now her little treasures for the next week or so. While I am torn about the holiday aspect of it as well, I have come to realize kids LOVE holidays -whatever they may be and why not let them celebrate. Why do we have to take all the joy out of them.

    The one thing that amazes me is when did it turn into another occasion for candy? Was never that way when we were kids.

  7. Ginger February 15, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Oh man, this makes me weep as I forsee our future. I don’t understand this with toddlers AT ALL. They don’t get it. Why force them into it?

  8. amoment2think February 15, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    You know all, what it seems to be we are describing is a Parenting Prisoners dilemma. No one wants to be the one to explain to their kid why they aren’t doing cards and no one wants to the kid who doesn’t get any cards and even though it might totally be in our best interest to band together and stop this crazy practice (or the ridiculous movement towards the candy-fication of the holiday) we are locked in this classic prisoners dilemma.

    Any ideas for how we can break free?

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