Just ’cause you saw it on Pinterest doesn’t mean you have to do it. Same goes for your stuff you saw on your friend’s Facebook wall or your friend’s cousin’s wife’s sister’s neighbor’s wall that Facebook lets you see because who the hell understands the privacy settings on that thing. I read a blog post on the Huffington Post this morning, titled, Can we Bring the Holidays Down a Notch? Um, yes freakin’ please. Yesterday I picked up Madeline from school and found a note about the upcoming Easter party. She has been assigned to bring in two dozen hard-boiled eggs and 17 trinkets to distribute to her classmates. I’m assuming they are making baskets or decorating paper bags to tote all of that crap home. Yes, crap. Stickers that I will find stuck to every surface of my house, pencils that need to be sharpened but of course I have no idea where a pencil sharpener is, so they will become swords (Houston will bite the erasers off first, of course), stamps and straws and bubbles and god knows what else that will end up in the trash two days later. The same stuff I just threw away after they arrived home in goodie bags from a birthday party. But that stuff is supposed to be for birthday parties. That’s why they sell it at party stores with all of the other birthday party stuff. When kids bring it home for every holiday out there it isn’t special and it just ends up as garbage a lot faster.
Valentines’s Day was eye opening. I received a note in her backpack to send in Valentines for the other kids. Along with the note was a class list. Easy, I thought. Next time we are at Walmart we will pick up a box of cards with one of her favorite characters on it and we’re good. She has kind of a long name and isn’t that great at writing it yet, so I’ll let her decide who gets which card and I will write the names. Done. It occurred to me that her making small cards for her classmates was an option, but I knew she would lose interest before finishing all 17 and we were just getting over virus #1,334,237 this winter and I wasn’t in the mood. It never occurred to me to go beyond the Valentine. Not to send in candy, not to make goody bags, not to check Pinterest for ways to waste time making Valentines for a bunch of 3-4 years olds who would never in a million years appreciate them.
I searched Pinterest this morning to see what ideas were out there for the overachieving moms and here is a sampling of what I found:
If you are a mom and you enjoy doing this kind of thing, fine. But if you find yourself doing it more for yourself then maybe you need to rethink whether it is necessary. Especially for 3 and 4 year olds. Guess what, they can’t read. They have no idea what the shovel means because they can’t read the card that says “I dig your friendship.” They love the chocolate, but do the kids really need more candy? That’s a rant for another day, but an article I read and have seen shared a few times sums it up nicely: Why is Everyone Always Giving my Kid Junk Food.
Not to mention the pressure this stuff puts on parents who both work full time outside of the home and don’t want to spend their precious time with their kids or time to themselves normally spent with a glass of wine and feet on the ottoman making elaborate Valentines. Or the parents on a really strict budget who are thankful that boxes of cards are under $3.00. Why should the kids get more than that and why should we be teaching them to expect more?
Some of this stuff gets me thinking about my honesty post a few weeks ago and the picture we paint with our Facebook posts and photos. I’d bet the farm that the moms who made Valentines like that shovel posted a photo of it on Facebook. How many of us do things with or for our kids and think, I can’t wait to post this on Facebook and show everyone what a good mom or dad I am. Look how much fun we have! Look how much I love my kids because we did a,b, and c and x,y, and z. Obviously not those exact words, but that’s kind of the intent and the spirit behind the action. I know I’m guilty of it sometimes.
We can control how we celebrate holidays in our homes and decide what we deem is important enough to recognize. I don’t think recognizing them at school is a bad idea either. But why make it so elaborate? Why isn’t it enough to be excited that your friend gave you a Valentine with a picture of your favorite Barbie or Toy Story character or took the time to draw you a picture or place stickers on the paper? School is hard enough for kids to navigate as it is without having to worry about being “shunned” for failing to provide candy for their friends. Why can’t the kids hear a story about Easter and do a craft related to the holiday. Do they really need goodie bags and a party?
I don’t place blame on sites like Pinterest or Facebook. I love them, but as with anything there are pitfalls. I’m impressed with anyone who completes projects they have pinned, as I have done one (other than using recipes I found there). However, I think it does give the impression that so many other people out there are refinishing their cabinets and making elaborate sensory boxes for their toddlers and turning trash into thirty-seven variations of treasure. Search for “Pallet” and you will see what I mean.
So next time your kid comes home with this:
Remember there are moms like me signing her daughter’s name on a flimsy piece of card stock with a picture of Rainbow Dash or Twilight Sparkle or whoever and calling it a day.