Thursday, February 09, 2012

Homemade Valentines (of the Borderline Inappropriate Sort that Boys Might Be Willing to Make)

Valentine for his classmates. By my son at age 7
The Valentine above almost got my son kicked out of school.

Long time readers of my blog as well as my unfortunate offspring will know that I have rather rigid rules for school Valentines. (See this previous post for example.)
  • First, you must give Valentines to ALL your classmates so as to avoid hurt feelings.
  • Second, and this is the even more important one: no crap TV character ones from Walmart. You have to make your own.
These rules resulted in my children creating exquisite works of art that I will treasure forever.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha HA!

Okay. The truth. What they resulted in was a bunch of crap "homemade" Valentines. Usually wonky construction paper "hearts" slathered with strange assortments of stickers, stained with tears shed during the inevitable frustration tantrums, and finished with lollipops taped to the front obscuring their signatures. If they bothered to sign them. But at least the cards didn't have TV characters on them...

That was until I discovered the six secrets to getting boys involved in public declarations of love (or at least sort-of-liking).
  1. Let them use normally off-limits equipment in my studio, like the fragile light table or dangerous xacto knives
  2. Encourage them to incorporate their current passionate interests
  3. Assist with the boring parts like signing their names, putting the cards in envelopes, and addressing them (by "assist" I mean "do it for them")
  4. Incentivize frequently with samples of the candy included with the cards
  5. Maintain low quality standards
  6. Have them write love poems
The first five secrets I figured out on my own. The last one, though, is thanks to their wonderful kindergarten teacher, Ms. Frey. She introduced them to classics of love poetry like:

"I love you,
I love you,
I love you divine.
Please give me your bubble gum.
You're sitting on mine."

The Valentine featured here took my fine-motor challenged child hours and hours to make. Not to mention the ages he spent creating the verse. In the process:
  1. I let him use my light table (which is how the writing is more or less in a straight line). Also I let him use the xacto knife to slice a piece of scratch paper to shreds, even though that had nothing to do with his project.
  2. I let him incorporate his current and longstanding interest in loud burping.
  3. I allowed him to sign his name only once and then photocopied it. And I did all the stuffing and addressing.
  4. I fed him lots of lollipops while he worked. Lots.
  5. I mentioned the lack of rhyme in his rhyming verse and the half-finished border around the heart only once and didn't say another word when he insisted he was done.
  6. I laughed - genuinely - at his funny poem and drawing. Actually I rather liked the absence of the expected rhyme. It was another little touch of humor (though I'm not certain it was intentional).
Then I sent him off to school with his packet of Valentines. Where the room mother at the class party saw his card and then expressed her shock at its inappropriate "potty" humor and attitude toward females to the longterm substitute (the original, beloved teacher had just started a sabbatical). Where the new teacher then confiscated all my son's Valentines. Where my son then dissolved in tears but fortunately waited until he was outside the school to call the teacher many, many mean names of the sort that might get a kid kicked out of school.

We actually resolved the incident amicably (after I had my own temper tantrum in front of my husband). The teacher apologized and let Eric distribute his cards another day, and they were great buds the rest of the year. And I had a pleasant chat with the room mother (who obviously had no sons of her own), and although we were not exactly best buds after that, well, we weren't best buds before either.

On second thought, maybe you should just to a run to Walmart for some TV character Valentines after all. But don't forget the extra lollipops. You'll still need them for the signing and addressing part. (Though perhaps you prefer high quality dark chocolate like I do.)

P.S. This is my favorite Valentine's Day book. All my kids loved it too, even though there is absolutely no mention of farting or burping in the whole story.

1 comment:

Wendy said...

Those of us who've had boys (or brothers) know that you've got boys pegged exactly! I'm reminded of some boys named Jack Prelutsky and Shel Silverstein...? What a fun post - can't wait to find the book!