Jackson's school took an nontraditional approach to celebrating Valentine's Day. There was no party. There was no candy. Or cookies, or red punch, or stickers or trinkets or whatever. There were Valentines. Lots of them. Each child was asked to make - hand made by them - a valentine for each classmate. That's about 26 valentines including teachers. These are 5 year olds. That's a rather steep assignment considering the time and patience that would go into hand-making over 2 dozen valentines.
We started three weeks ago. Jackson sponged hearts and hand prints on red, white, purple and pink paper (because some girls like pink, I was informed). Then each day leading up to Valentine's Jackson wrote out 3-4 cards with a special message to each and every student in his class. Some were simple "Happy Valentine's Day" messages. Some, to his closest of friends, read "I love you." Some were truthful messages about his feelings toward certain classmates: "I think you are pretty." " You are fun." "I hope you are feeling better." Etc. It was taxing, forcing a five year old who has been at school all day long to come home and write out hand written messages. It was frustrating at times for both of us. But once they were all completed Jackson was incredibly proud of his creations. And so was I.
When I picked him up from school yesterday - the day of the exchange - he was beaming with joy, and dare I say it, love? There was no party. No treats or snacks or goodies. There were 24 students carrying homemade boxes full to overflowing with kind notes hand written by their class mates. Jackson savored every message as we drove home. He pointed out special notes and commented on who used heart stickers and who used Star Wars stickers. He was happy. That's something you can't account for in a sugar-filled-party or generic brand pre-made Valentine's Day cards. These cards won't get tossed in tomorrow's garbage. I'll put them away in his art box. They are mini-masterpieces. Filled with love and kindness and friendship.