In spite of Pinterest, this year I resisted the urge to do Extremely! Cute! Things! (that the kids would not appreciate unless they were dipped in chocolate) for their classroom Valentines. In fact, I bought a package of Star Wars Valentines and made the kids write their own, because I'm all anti-establishment like that.
But I just know that tomorrow, some kid whose mother is practically perfect in every way - like Mary Poppins, Martha Stewart, and Maria Montessori all rolled into one - is going to show up with the cutest, most adorable, most crafty, most thoughtful Valentines in the history of papercraft, and they're going to have made them by hand, while incorporating a thoughtful lesson on history or culture. Perhaps they will be red, pink, and white paper cranes that the child made while listening to traditional Japanese ongaku, eating sushi, and learning all about Buddhism. Perhaps they will be paper tulips for the girls and little paper wooden shoes for the boys, crafted while listening to Levenslied and eating soused herring, while their Franken-perfect-mother read them the story of The Little Mermaid. The real one, of course, not the crappy Disney version. Oh crap, that was Danish, not Dutch. You catch my drift. And I will feel shame. I will feel guilt. I will feel like the Worst Mother EVER when my kid shows up with her crappy Darth Maul suckers and the hearts cut out of foam that say To: L From: MG because MG got bored and decided that L was sufficient detail for Lilly's Valentine - nevermind that there are multiple Ls in her class.
Hey I COULD do these sorts of lessons with my kids. There is no reason why I couldn't bust out with the leiderhosen and make schnitzel and show them The Sound of Music while we make adorable punny Valentines that look like sheep (made with cotton balls, of course) and say, "I like ewe!" (There were goats in The Sound of Music - in the part where they do the puppets. Shut up.) I HAVE done these things with my kids. I have exhausted myself with thoughtful and multi-sensory engaging activities which involve food and music and culture and craft - and generally the very next day we'll go to the store and they'll see the box of 30 Star Wars Valentines and they'll say, "Gosh, I really wish we could have Star Wars Valentines..."
In my nearly-7 years of parenting, I have learned that they're going to be disappointed no matter what I do. If I go homemade, they'll covet the storebought. If I go storebought, I'll feel inadequate in the face of the beautiful Valentines they bring home. I might as well save myself the trouble and aim low, if I'm going to end up feeling crummy either way.
Maybe next year we'll go with anatomical correctness as our theme, and I'll give them a lesson in the circulatory system, as we create 3D paper versions of a human heart. And we'll eat chicken hearts. And we'll listen to Heart. See? It's not hard for this to veer completely out of control. It's better to resist.