Overheard: “Mom, I Can’t Say THAT!” Subtitle: Gavin and Valentine’s Day

Ah, Valentine’s Day. What torture.

And when did it become almost exclusively about candy?

I’m reminded of one of my favorite comments made by Jigsaw Jones eleven years ago in The Case of the Secret Valentine. Jigsaw has just made an unnerving discovery: someone sent him a secret Valentine. He complains to Mila:

“You know what the worst part is,” I complained. “This girl is ruining a perfectly good holiday. I mean, I like Valentine’s Day. You get to eat cupcakes. Why does she have to drag love into it?”

Anyway, our family’s participation in the holiday has devolved over the years from our kids’  highly artistic, creative efforts at card-making to pure commercialism. Lisa now buys the cards at CVS, the kids fill ’em out, and we’re through it with a minimum of hassle.

Tip to parents: Things go so much easier when you eliminate tiresome concepts such as art, creativity, effort, and care!

Anyway, Lisa brought home some generic cards for Gavin. They contained benign messages like, I don’t know, “You’re a blast!” (cue rocket ship art), “You’re awesome!” and so on. You know the type.

Gavin looked at the cards and nearly died right there from mortification. He began twitching, scratching himself, blinking uncontrollably, clearly agitated.  “Mom, I can’t say that . . . to a girl!”

“What?”

Gavin could barely form the words. He finally sputtered,  “I can’t say that a girl is awesome.”

They talked about it, and Gavin made it clear that any expression of affection, admiration, or even grudging respect would be unacceptable. So Lisa, no dummy, surrendered to our fifth-grade boy’s abject terror. She instead bought  a holiday bag of mini Kit-Kat bars with the words “TO” and “FROM” printed on each individual bar. Gavin had only to fill out the names — which was about as much emotion as he was willing to expend.

At CVS, Lisa ran into another mother of a fifth-grade boy. She was on the same errand, dealing with a similar revolt. Looks like a lot of kids will be getting Kit Kat bars in school today. The next few years should be interesting.

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