Wednesday, February 9, 2011
My daughter is the child who brings in the homemade Valentines Day cards. You know the one. Barely legible, with puffy stickers all over the front. You roll your eyes and think “overachiever”. And she is. But she makes those cards because she likes to and not because her mother makes her. My youngest son is happy to fold over the Harry Potter valentine and choose a sticker to close it with before scrawling his friend’s name on the card. Done. My oldest son never went in for valentines. I made them for him in kindergarten and I’m fairly certain he’s never given out a valentine since.
Here’s why I still make Valentines Day cards even now - I like to. I still get a thrill out of sparkles and glue and paper and pink. I know there’s therapy for that. Or maybe it is my therapy. The bigger reason that I make valentines is that it’s a chance to tell my kids how special they are. When I talk to relatives or friends I haven’t seen in awhile, it’s easy to tell them how amazing my kids are. But I don’t get enough opportunities to tell my kids themselves. And I know they need to hear it.
In a previous life, I had a job that involved working with teenagers and their families. I made a point of telling parents how amazing their kids where while their kids were standing right there. And if a teen asked me to write a recommendation, I always gave them a copy of what I wrote. I wanted them to hear why I thought they were so special. I don’t think kids hear it enough. They hear so many negative messages all day long from themselves and from their peers and maybe even from some adults. Countering those messages is important.
I worry that I don’t tell my own kids how special they are often enough. I guess it just feels awkward to come out in the middle of passing the broccoli with, “You’re such a kind person – that makes me so proud!” So I look for opportunities that present themselves. And Valentines Day does that.
You don’t have to make homemade cards. There’s plenty of them for sale at the store or maybe you even have leftovers in the basement from years gone by. I pulled out the leftover Transformers valentines for my hubby to give the kids. Bigger Valentines are good though. There’s more room for all the mushy stuff you want to say.
I hope you use this Valentines Day as an excuse to tell everyone around you how much you love them. We shouldn’t need an excuse, but it does provide perfect cover from skeptical kids. They can’t wonder why you’re saying this now. It’s Valentines Day after all! However you do it, be sure to find ways to tell your kids what you love about them. They need to hear it and we need to say it.