Valentine’s Day: it’s all about the children

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m sure it was supposed to be Christmas that was all about the children. Valentine’s Day, surely, is about the following: making single people feel desolate; charging couples a mint to go out for a multi-course dinner where they dare not express any loving emotion lest it feel too forced; allowing stalkers who send anonymous letters to feel socially acceptable for one day of the year. 

It’s not like I’m a fan or anything. But until we moved over here I did, at least, think Valentine’s Day was strictly for grown ups – or at least teenagers – and about the momentous decision of whether to send a card, and if so, to whom? 

Witnessing the Stateside kiddification of V-Day, I decided to borrow a library book to clear things up. Evanston library has a whole bay of books for children on this specific subject. Things to Make and Do for Valentine’s Day explains: ‘on Valentine’s Day we tell people how much we like them’, and suggests ‘make the same card for all your friends!’ Really? This seems to be the convention at any rate: kids make Valentine’s cards – or cookies or cakes.  (Check out the list of child Valentine crafts on this blog for a small sample.) Then they go to school, send everyone in the class a card in a specially orchestrated postal distribution thing, before they all, presumably, collapse in a haze of glitter and pink fizz. (But for a darker view, see here.) If they aren’t old enough for that, they simply dress up in clothes covered in hearts or a red tutu – as witnessed at this morning’s Wiggleworms class. 

In fact, this has gone so far that yesterday Time Out Chicago Kids proposed something of a perfect storm of nausea by requesting that you send a Valentine’s card to a sick child in hospital. Because what could be less meaningful than sending a pre-formatted electronic expression of your love to a child you have never, ever met?

Now, I know I wouldn’t find all this depressing if I weren’t, at heart, both a curmudgeon and a romantic. I’m pretty sure I don’t believe that love is all you need. My faint dislike for pink increases every time I look at clothes for little girls and can find nothing else. But more than that, I like the idea that a Valentine means something: that it expresses a true romantic feeling, a little bit tortured, a little bit dangerous. I don’t want toddlers to feel tortured – least of all, the ones in Lurie Children’s Hospital. I just don’t want to see them playing with those dangerous pink hearts. 


About scepticalexpat

British 30something wannabe academic, moving to Chicago for three years in August 2010.
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5 Responses to Valentine’s Day: it’s all about the children

  1. ahlondon says:

    I know. It’s maddening. Last year, my first year back, I had forgotten all of the kiddie stuff. It didn’t last. I made 100 rainbow crayons in mini cupcake wrappers this year.

  2. ektoukosmou says:

    Thanks for bringing attention to the increasingly vapid and commercial exploitation of every holiday in the calendar. A depressing statistic I read in Time Magazine this morning stated that Americans will spend an estimated $815 million on Valentine’s Day gifts for their pets this year!

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