I’d Rather Be Eating Candy Hearts

vday sign revised.jpg

Making Valentine’s Day Cards with My Son

My son sits down at the dining room table and dumps out his supplies. He grabs a pencil, sorts through papers, and arranges his stickers into a messy pile. Sitting on the edge of his seat, lips pursed in concentration, he begins to slowly print his name.

I have been looking forward to this since we picked up the Avengers and Paw Patrol Valentine’s Day cards at Walmart this afternoon. I am all about anything involving stickers, markers, and stationary, and I have always enjoyed giving and making cards. I am trying to keep this tradition alive with my children, so we often send cards to friends and family. My kids are usually equally excited to make a card as they are to receive one.

In the card aisle, my son stared frozen with excited indecision at the choice he had to make, Star Wars? Jake and the Neverland Pirates? SpongeBob SquarePants?  So many of his favorites to choose from.  My daughter immediately grabbed the first box she saw with Elsa on it, but he made his decision deliberately and with care … and a great deal of time!

Now, only hours later, we carefully rip apart the cards and place them in piles. I love these quiet moments with my son, who is usually wielding a light saber or throwing a ball. Typically, he would rather be outside getting muddy, but if I can entice him with the right art supplies he becomes my little apprentice.

But my joy quickly turns to annoyance during his attempt at the first card. “You need to write smaller,” I instruct as I watch the slopes of his ‘W’ take up half of the card. Why in the world are these cards so tiny, anyway? I quickly follow up my comment by instructing, “Lowercase a” and “that’s not how you make a Y.” I soon realize this task is going to be much more challenging than I thought.

vday cards revised

When the teacher handed the class list to the parents and explained that each child was expected to write his own name on each card along with the recipient’s name, I had inwardly cringed. My son, at age five and a half, still struggles to write his name most of the time. He has no concept of size and usually only three of his letters fit on the line provided. Not only would he have to write his own name 26 times, but he would also have to write 26 other names.  This was going to take some time!

***

I get frustrated quickly when we work on the cards each day, but I try not to let it show. The whole process annoys my efficient nature as we usually end up spending more time getting organized than actually creating cards.  As I hover over him correcting his mistakes, he gets distracted easily, which is not a surprise. We usually only complete two cards at a time.  When he finishes the last letter, he and I are both ready to be finished.

However, I slowly start to see improvement. The lowercase ‘a’ that was usually a capital letter gets smaller and more oval. The ‘W’ starts to look pointed at the bottom and the ‘r’ starts to have a “candy cane hook” instead of a straight line for the top. This is slow, tedious work with a headstrong boy.  But as he continues to work on his form, I work on not being so critical. I begin to sit back and give him some space to make mistakes.

Then one day, he comes into my bedroom and hands me a completed card. “Look. All by myself,” he states proudly. I start to scold him; he was only supposed to work on the cards when I was there to supervise.  Although I am usually lax with creative endeavors, I considered this homework and wanted him to complete the assignment correctly.  (I was also rather concerned that if I left him to his own devices, the small candy that was supposed to go into the envelope might mysteriously disappear and be replaced by a somewhat less desirable Valentine food, like a raisin or baby carrot).

But, as I look closely at the card, I stop myself from saying anything.  I can actually decipher each letter of the name on the outside, Lillian. I look at the back of the card and see his own, slightly slanted, but completely legible, name in the correct spot.

All by himself.

Sometimes it is when I step back (or am hiding in my room reading a book) that he is able to grow in a way in which I couldn’t possibly teach him.  It’s knowing when to back off that is the tricky part.

We continued with the cards together and now have finished our task – with six days to spare until his Valentine’s Day party!  He enjoyed the process, and I enjoyed the results.  Of course, there isn’t too much time to bask in the glory of the completed cards because I need to get to work on sixteen Frozen cards with my three-year-old daughter!

What do you do for Valentine’s Day cards with your kids?  Homemade or store bought?  Love or hate it? 

 

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