Another so-called ‘festival’ has crept up on me, dressed in sparkly pink, glittery red and accessorised in sickening cute-ness. Yep, Valentines day.
I don’t remember there being this much of a fuss about it back home… but if there is a feverish Valentine-related breakout in the UK I really don’t want to know. I like the idea of cynicism winning through somewhere. The picture in my mind of Brits grumbling away in a low-level way about the gift-card-company and florists scams around the 14th Februrary is pleasing and stirs feelings of pride and affection for my fellow country men.
Up until today, I have been using my favourite avoidance tactic: The Ostrich Approach. This basically means that whenever I am in a shop and encounter one of those aisles that look like a sugar-plum fairy has been feasting on a vat of sugary strawberry jam and thrown up everywhere, I simply get really interested in the toothpaste aisle instead. Unfortunately (as with Christmas) this approach can only work for so long. There are also only a limited number of dental-related products that one family needs.
For a while now, I have been hearing mutterings about completing class valentines… At first I chose to look the other way, but then curiosity and the realisation that around this time last year Seb came back from school clutching a bag of various pink-and-red stuff made me ask that fateful question. ‘So does every child in the class do something for Valentines Day then?’ The answers (after the initial horrified do-you-really-need-to-ask expressions) were along the lines of a resounding ‘Yes’ with the assurance that it was practically mandatory for each child in the class to give every other child in the class something.
Now call me old-fashioned, traditionalist etc, but I was expecting Valentines day awareness and traditions to kick in around the spotty, hormone-fuelled age. Not at the age where one learns to read. Valentines Day should be left to those either looking for relationships, or those in new relationships. It should be approached with fear, in case you don’t receive any cards/ flowers/ chocolates. It should entail walking past the hoped-for one’s house 10 or more times with an increasingly, sweaty, mostly inappropriate card, which is stuffed through the letterbox as fast as possible. The ritual should conclude with a 100m dash that Hussain Bolt would be proud of and the night spent agonising over ‘what have I done’.
Initially I was determined to stick to my beliefs, based heavily on my ‘friends’ annual humiliation. However, I am ashamed to say the fear of not wanting to look like the only parent who didn’t know anything got the better of me. I crumbled and headed for the pink aisle in Walgreens.
After my eyes had settled down from the assault that met them, I managed to navigate my way as fast as possible to the far end of the aisle, where the pinkness had slightly dimmed. It was only then that my ears butted in and I became aware of the in-store radio laying on a guilt trip. Apparently one should not stick to just a plain, boring Valentine declaring your love to A.N. Other. You should also send wishes, in the form of chocolate, stuffed animals, shaped candy and other such knick-knacks to almost everyone in your life, from the man at the pizza place to your aunt in Timbuktu.
Despite all the invasion of my senses to the contrary I tried desperately to find something that the boy could distribute relatively easily and innocuously. It was then that my faith in America was re-installed. There on the shelf, was a DIY Valentines kit containing 32 pieces of paper and stickers, all with Chuggington on them. You really can buy anything here – how great is that, a ready made class valentines kit?
‘A-ha’ I thought, ‘now all I need to do is get the boy to write 23 names and sign his name 23 times, how easy is that?’
It has been a very long night, and we managed twelve, with the help of Smartie-carrots. I keep reminding myself that he has had some good writing practice…
I however need something with lots of lime and salt round the rim.