Valentine's Day is the new Halloween

February 14 is Valentine’s Day and since it falls on a Sunday this year, both my children will have their Valentine’s Day parties in school on Friday. For weeks now I have been sitting on class lists and boxed cards. One part about Valentine’s Day that hasn’t changed from my elementary school days is the rule that students who bring in Valentine’s Day cards must bring in one for each student in the class.

The rest of it feels more like Halloween to me.

It used to be just cards and maybe a few conversation ‘Be Mine’ hearts sprinkled in a couple of envelopes. I always tossed the hearts out. To me, they were the Smarties of Valentine’s Day. You know, those pieces of Halloween candy you ate last out of desperation once the good stuff like Snickers and Kit Kats were depleted.

Times have changed.

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Here is a picture of my son’s bag from his Valentine’s Day party in first grade last year. Apparently cards aren’t enough anymore. Behold the Fun Dip, Blow Pop Minis, a full size package of cookies, assorted lollipops, and other stuff I couldn’t recognize. I don’t even know what a Kid Z Bar is anyway. I’ll take conversation hearts and even Smarties over all of this other crap that was in there.

I didn’t take a picture of it but his bag from his Kindergarten class in another state had just as much candy, actually slightly more since that class was bigger.

Instead of decorating a paper bag with red hearts I should send my son in with his orange plastic Halloween pumpkin to collect all the candy. Instead of going door-to-door the kids go desk-to-desk for candy.

We all know some schools have adopted a no-food policy in response to numerous allergies. Send them in with the bucket anyway to collect all the stickers, pencils, erasers, notepads, fake tattoos and anything else off the Oriental Trading website they are guaranteed to bring home.

The kids are also highly encouraged to dress up in red and white. Costumes, February style.

It’s not a stretch for the kids to expect a surplus of treats on Valentine’s Day which is a holiday albeit a Hallmark one. We are now at the point at which kids equate candy to just being out and about on errands every day. A trip to Trader Joe’s means a lollipop even if the kids didn’t find the purple stuffed monkey hidden above one of the aisles. Haircuts also mean lollipops. Sometimes we take the Dum Dums but most of the time I politely decline the lollipops especially for the 3 year old although the kids are offered stickers instead.

The worst ‘just because’ candy offender these days is my son’s weekly religion class. I have started to dread Wednesday nights because he comes home with a Ziploc bag full of M&Ms, fun size chocolate bars or Tootsie Roll Pops just for showing up to class. I am pretty sure the enrollment fee we paid is being plowed back into the candy aisle at Target. Maybe we’ll get a break for Lent?

Both my kids had good check-ups at the dentist last week. I’d like to keep it that way.

I like the fact there are Valentine’s Day parties. Elementary school is so work intensive now even for the younger grades that the kids deserve to have some fun during the school day. Same story with the Halloween parties and parades.

Still, I am not going to disguise my dislike for the pile of Valentine’s Day candy that grows each year. I send the kids in with cards only and that’s the plan again for this year. Cards that are carefully and thoughtfully handwritten by a second grader should be enough for anyone. Let’s save all of the Halloween candy for, well Halloween.

Have you noticed an increase in the candy and other treats and trinkets that come home now on Valentine’s Day?

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Tags: parenting

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