Last week I received an email from my son's teacher about Valentines Day and I realized that almost-four-year old Monkey would enjoy Valentine's Day this year, especially since he gets excited when he receives cards. Even though I fantasized about creating 15 hand-made cards with Monkey, I decided to be practical--given Monkey's attention span--and buy cards. We bought Spider-Man themed Valentines' Day cards that came with various tattoos of spiders and Spider-Man in action. I addressed each of them and Monkey was in charge of selecting which Spider-Man tattoo went to which classmate. I'd ask, '"Which tattoo do you want to give Tommy?" and he'd reply, "I think Tommy would like the Spider-Man mask tattoo" with so much certainty, I could tell he was being thoughtful in his choices.
As Monkey and I sealed each of the cards with stickers, I thought about what I want to teach Monkey and Munchkin about Valentine's Day now and in the future. Despite the mass commercialism behind Valentine's Day, I stubbornly like that it reminds us to display affection at least once a year. Here are a few things I want them to know;
- Valentine's Day is meant to be fun, it's a celebration of love and appreciation. It is not a measure of your lovability or your net worth.
- All kinds of relationships should be celebrated, not just ones with a mate. I have a great husband, but I would not be the woman he fell in love with if it weren't for the love of my friends and family.
- Love is not determined by the size of the gift you receive on this day, be it chocolate hearts or diamond earrings.
- It's okay to be single on Valentine's Day. It will give you an excuse to pamper yourself or go out with friends.
- The most important person to love is yourself. You can’t share love if you don’t have love within you to give.
I know it will be years before these lessons make sense, but I strive to model this kind of love and celebration so that by the time Monkey and Munchkin are old enough to feel the pressure of Valentine's Day, they'll be able to shrug it off and feel the fun instead. In five years, 10 years and 15 years I hope that they'll do much of what we'll be doing this week: making cards for friends and family, saying, "I love you" and giving one another chocolate. After all, the world can always use more love and even more chocolate.