Brace yourselves: Valentine's Day is coming. Yes, the schmaltzy, heart-laden holiday that leaves moms frantically Googling "ideas Valentine's Day gifts classroom" from February 12 to 13 is nearly here. When I was a kid, everyone just gave mass-produced valentines with cartoon characters that you got at the pharmacy or whatever... but apparently that's not enough anymore, because my kids come home with a full bag of stuff. And because the same thing probably happens at your house, here are the most annoying things your kid will bring home on Valentine's Day, from least aggravating to most.
I will fully admit to being a bit of a Valentine's Day Grinch. My husband and I don't celebrate the day whatsoever; we find it commercial and sort of silly. But I'm not one to take a poop on other people's joy, and I do remember that, once upon a time, I liked both the classroom celebrations and getting a heart-shaped box of chocolate from my parents, so I try to make it fun for my kids. We pick out valentines for friends (my son has chosen Star Wars for the last four years; my daughter picked My Little Pony), I buy them a special heart-shaped box of chocolates and set them out at the dinner table and, if I remember, they wear something red. So it's not like I'm a total grump! (OK, maybe I am, but I don't let it rub off on them.) After they're in bed, and they've inevitably left their bag full of V-Day junk strewn all over the living room, these are the things I will have some feelings about having to deal with. The first five are cool, but beyond that...
Pencils, pens, crayons, highlighters, markers, erasers, rulers, little notepads, it's all good. I mean, can you ever have enough school supplies? You cannot. They don't go bad or take up too much space and they're always useful. If you really want to include something for your kid to give other kids, school supplies have my vote.
Useful? Check! Not clutter-y? Check! Encourages love of reading? Check! Granted, this is more for an older kid (I don't think preschoolers would find much use for a book mark) but it's also something you could totally make! Favorite cartoon or movie characters, cute designs... and I'll bet, if one were to Google "free printable bookmarks," you would find a whole bunch. V-Day would cost you no more than the card stock, and time to cut them out.
Maybe I'm just feeling nostalgic for my high school backpack all covered in various pins (bands, politics, random crap I thought was funny but was actually super corny), but the few times my kids got a pin for Valentine's Day they really liked it and it stayed on their backpacks ever since. It's something they can keep throughout the year without it getting in the way... and it is a good introduction to a punk rock future.
The one downside to these is when said tattoos are really chintzy and don't transfer well onto the skin and then the kid freaks out about it because Captain America's head came off. (This is no one's fault: It happens.) But otherwise this is something I feel everyone can enjoy... and, again, is a great way to usher them into a future as a punk.
As long as my kid doesn't stick them on the walls or furniture (which can and has happened, but rarely, thank goodness) this is an excellent option and kids of all ages go nuts. Who doesn't like decorating stuff with stickers? Bad people, that's who.
If you and/or your kid enjoys making friendship bracelets, then this is a fantastic option (and a nice bonding activity for you and your kiddo). Of course, the effort on this one is much higher than going to the store and picking up a box of pencils so if my kid doesn't wear the bracelet I feel guilty that someone else put in the effort. I know that's on me, but, like, maybe don't knock yourself out is all I'm saying.
9Individually Personalized Anything
It's not bad... it just highlights my complete lack of effort and makes me salty.
The fun a kid will have with a bouncy ball can never ever be equal to a) the annoyance I must endure when they scream that they can't find it b) the fact that 90 percent of the time it will wind up under my furniture c) the fact that 10 percent of the time I will trip on it. And it's even worse if you have a small child in the house who thinks trachea-sized objects look delicious. Let's just skip bouncy balls, huh?
If Valentine's Day were in May I'd be all for bubbles. But since it's in February and I live in New England, it means that my kids will want to play with their bubbles, but they'll whine that it's too cold to go outside and then ask me why they can't blow bubbles in the house. *enter deadpan expression here* The only thing worse is when they decide, without consulting me, that indoors is the best place to blow bubbles. Then I'm tripping on bouncy balls and slipping on my bubble-slick kitchen floor.
What even is the point of these things? They're sort of fun for about 30 minutes if you activate them in the dark. But my kids always want to activate them in daylight hours, when you can't even see the glow, and then they get all miffed when it's not bright when they go to bed, and I'm like "I told you that would happen" and they're like "Blah blah blah" and I'm like "OK let me throw them out then" and they're like "Noooooooooo! I want to play with it!" and I roll my eyes and allow it because it's easier than fighting and then they don't play with it and I'm stuck looking at a spent glow stick for the next month.
My. Kids. Do. Not. Need. Candy. At all. They're still working on their Halloween and Christmas candy, people. They need more sugar like I need a pair of hyped up maniacs asking why chocolate doesn't count as a vegetable... which is what I get if there's too much candy in the house. My kids' schools have actually banned candy for Valentine's Day for food allergy reasons, which is not only great but the right and proper thing to do... but someone always, always ignores the rule. And, like, my kids don't even have allergies and it's annoying for me. My heart goes out to all the allergy moms out there who are like "Sorry, honey, but you can't have this gift because it will literally kill you."
Like... if you're also going to give me a voucher for a new rug when the slime inevitably gets ground into the fibers, then by all means give my kid slime. Otherwise please don't send this home with my children.
3Tiny Plastic Toys
If I could ban the production of theses plastic nightmares I really would. They're terrible for the environment, kids are neutral toward them at best, and yet you feel bad throwing them out. I loathe finding these things tossed in the corner of my living room or cluttering up my kids' toy box or digging them from between the cushions of my couch. Let's not. Let's just not.
2Tiny Plastic Games
They're like tiny plastic toys, only they can only possibly be played with one way and they never really work. You know, like those little plastic marble mazes where the marble gets constantly stuck or a tiny paddle ball that I'm not coordinated enough to manage, much less my 4 year old. Not gonna lie: those go right in the garbage and they're a total waste. Let's just stop.
1Anything That Makes Noise
Goddamnit, Cheryl: a whistle? How could you? WTF were you thinking? A plague on your house.