UPDATE: Forgot to mention that I’ll be on Newschannel 13‘s Live at Noon Wednesday talking about fun this February break.
So far, the Valentine’s Day season has been pretty predictable.
I should have remembered that J would want to get gifts for all of us (remember last year’s Love Dice?). We’d gone to Target to hunt down a box of cards for her 3rd grade class, but next thing you know she was on a super-secret mission to pick out something special for each of us. Then she was clearly saddened that M had no intention of reciprocating, even when she elaborately admired a pair of hugging stuffed monkeys directly in front of her big sister. I was about to tell M that I’d sponsor a gift for her little sister if she’d like, but before I had a chance, M decided to tell J that Valentine’s Day is no big deal and she had no intention of buying any sort of gifts. By the time it was over I had one huffy sister, one hurt sister, and a receipt of about three times as many purchases as I’d planned. As we drove home, J asked, “Mom, will you tell me how much I owe you?” And I started to respond that I could chip in for her gifts. Bad move. She was angry at the suggestion, while M rolled her eyes that anyone would pass up money from Mom for any reason whatsoever.
And, in keeping with time-honored tradition, J has transformed the “supposed to be fun” school project into a physically and emotionally taxing expression of her profound artistic ambitions (see also the Leprechaun Trap, Halloween candy graph, and other such assignments). SheÂ chose a make-your-own Valentines kit with enough little foam-sticker letters and doohickeys for 20 cards. I advised her to think about this one. Twenty was exactly enough for each classmate and her teacher with no margin for error. Plus, constructing the dang valentines is quite a bit more work. She was up for the challenge, she assured me.
A mere 24 hours later she was weeping, panic-stricken. She’d finished five or six beautiful valentines and she’d exhausted her ideas and all the best stickers. Plus there was still the “valentine mailbox” to decorate, along with daily homework and gymnastics. Perhaps a better mother would have made her suffer the consequences of her choices. But, man, how she suffers. And then I suffer. It was so much easier to pick up the Pets in 3-D pack. She spent this afternoon signing them and taping a Tootsie Roll to each, exulting in her rapid progress all the way. Which left plenty of time for her to pick up the mess she’d left behind the other day.