Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Popularity points

I just want to say that I wish schools would get out of the Valentine's business.
Not High Schools, or Jr Highs, where the students decide what they want to do (or not), but elementary schools.
You know, the class where the kids exchange valentine cards.
Take fourth grade. We spent a day making elaborately decorated bags to hold our valentines. As an art project it was kind of fun, and kind of annoying because you couldn't just decorate your paper bag any old way; it had to have hearts and such nonsense.
Then it was up to the parents to furnish the kids with valentines to distribute. Which for me meant the least expensive box that would cover the whole class. How much I would have liked to pick just a few nice ones for the friends I really wanted to give to, to set them apart from the crowd.
So on the morning of the 14th you went to school with your valentines in their envelopes, neatly addressed. You attached your decorated bag to your desk. And the chaos of distribution began.
Of course, it wasn't every child putting a little card in every other child's bag. We fell into two classes of distributors: those whose parents made us give each and every classmate a valentine, regardless of whether we loathed each other. And those who were free to give fabulous valentines to a select few, and nothing to the rest.
Naturally there were two classes of recipients: the popular, whose bags were stuffed full of the offerings of their friends and their would-be friends. And the unpopular, whose bags contained just the forced and hollow cards from the kids of give-to-all parents.
There is no child on earth who does not already know which category he or she belongs to. There is no need to go through this exercise to remind us. I actually saw Becky K sort her valentines and keep only the ones from her clique, tossing the rest in the trash.
I don't think it's better to say that every child must give to every other - the whole point of giving is lost. Or that it they should be completely free to choose who to give to - just think of the poor souls who end up with none. I think the whole contest should be abolished.


Bagman and Butler said...

As soon as you said "elementary school," I knew where you were going with this one! Yes!! Yes!! Although Valentine's Day was one of Bagman's favorites in later life, in elementary school it was just extra homework. Probably the reason I never wanted a paper route. Distribution.

steven said...

nanu i tell my classes at school about my favourite memory of valnetines day as a kid looking for the moment when no one - especially not "the girl" - was watching, so i could put the one card i had poured every ounce of my passion, affection, possibly even the earliest inklings of lust into making inside her desk. it's so different to the scene now which is exactly as you describe here. i am not a fan of it as it stands. i don't do the envelopes on the back of the chairs thing. i tell them to chuck them onto each other's desks, to gather them all up when they've opened them and then to take them home. it's a fair bit of a waste i think. steven

Ronda Laveen said...

I remember making those Valentine's containers and filling out the cards. Everything you wrote was spot on. Each child does know exactly which group they belong too with out question. My mom also bought the least expensive but generously filled box of Valentine's. It is hard learning those lessons so young. Becky K needs a swat on the rump.

Titus said...

Just been through a version of this with my twin 6 (yes, six) year olds. One made a card for his brother, but the brother made one for a girl who made him one back. So first twin came back in tears saying no one loved him, not even the boys.
It will be funny in ten years time, but my heart was bleeding along with his.

Pauline said...

I give thanks that custom has not reached here - yet! Like everything else it will, eventually. I am sooo happy being "behind the times"!