Yesterday, on the socked-in, gloomy day that was Valentine’s, I announced to my five-year-old that I wouldn’t be attending his classroom party, he’d have to thread his own fruit kabob. I had school work, I explained, which in days past seemed to resonate a kind of urgency he understood.
“WHAAAAAT?” he shrieked, his face a raisin of contempt.He stomped his foot, pegged an action figure at the floor.
Standing akimbo in my dingy bathrobe, I quickly recanted. “Okay, okay, easy. I’ll come, but I’ll be a little late and we’ll have to leave a little early.”
Valentine’s Day. What can I say? I think it nearly as lame as devising a holiday and an entire card market for angst or fear or indifference. But here we are, gushy celebrators of love, where the average (grown) man shells out around $169 for a surefire ruckus in the sack.
That aside, the other part likely to trigger a migraine, of course, is the crafty implication. Every year, there’s the unspoken pressure to perform, to NOT be seduced by Rite Aid’s $2.99 pack of perforated Disney-themed schlock TATTOOS INCLUDED!!!!! and to use hot glue and poster paints and popsicle sticks and pom-poms and feathers. And yes, to get online and follow a crafts “recipe” with explicit and civilized 1-2-3 steps that will never yield anything remotely close to the masterpiece in the picture. Not in my kitchen. Not with my kids.
But then there is the gorgeous Scandinavian woman who spawned an obdient, well-mannered little boy who is in my son’s class. His name is exotic and so too, are his European sandals. Anyway, she did THAT Valentine, that homemade one. And whether she solicited the aid of her boy or stayed up until midnight adhering the robot’s miniscule parts all alone, we’ll never know. She doesn’t seem one to flaunt her talents or lament her tortures. Anyway, here it is:
So my son and I, trailing the Mom artist mentioned above, walked the row of decorated bags and dropped in our perforated Rite Aid Valentine’s. He was no less proud of his scrappy cards than the boy with the hand-crafted jewels. Such is the gracious blindside of youth.
We ate fruit kabobs and drank fruit smoothies until our blood sugar soared. His bag was loaded with cards from Rite Aid and then the one that wasn’t. For a split second, I wondered what it might feel like to be THAT mom, that purveyor of art and craft and the tireless pomp it would surely demand. But then, the precedent that being THAT mom would set. What will it be next year? Hand-spun candied bird nests? Origami insects?
I say set the bar low and play your cards from there. Or else, ask THAT mom if maybe she’ll make extra cards next year, at say, a struggling artist’s fee and just pencil in your son’s name.