A Valentine’s Day massacre to call our own

Nothing sucks away the Valentine’s Day spirit like Valentine’s Day. This probably holds true in all situations, but it is especially evident when you have children in elementary school.

Valentine’s Day means school parties, which means preparing a bunch of those little waxed ticket Valentine’s cards.

Most public grade school classes contain twenty-some-odd students, making it perfectly natural that the cards come in boxes of 16. If you search hard, you may be able to scrounge up a box of 32 cards, but the prizes (and they need to have prizes now) are not as good.

power ranger valentines

A 32 count box of valentines – more precious than gold.

The boxes I unearthed came with temporary tattoos and glow-in-the-dark stickers. These were not on the lollipop level, but gradeschoolers need additional sugar even less than they need tattoos.

Having limited the number of boxes to buy, and spared dozens of children’s parents from the effects of an added sugar rush, I thought I’d won Valentine’s Day.

I had not.

This became apparent when it came time to prepare the cards. Big Brother was able to address his by himself, but he needed help fitting the tattoos into the little slots in the cards. Those little slits were difficult to find, and impossible to neatly slip the corners of tattoos squares into. It would have been so much easier to ram a lollipop stick through there. Valentine fail #1.

Buster’s cards were worse. With his unconfident penmanship, he could not make his pencil write dark enough on the waxy paper. I gave him a pen that writes smoothly on wax. Valentine fail #2. The pen also smears smoothly on wax. I dictated the spellings of the names of his classmates to him while he wrote the letters and promptly smeared them as he moved his hand across the paper.

We used the extra cards to replace the worst monstrosities. Having learned our lesson, we let the ink dry and folded them so he could write his name without touching the recipient’s name. Then it was time to attach the glow-in-the dark stickers.

More tiny slits! Valentine fail #3. The stickers were harder to fit into the slits than the tattoos were, especially when attempting to do it without touching the ink already on the card.


can you find a tiny slit?

Somewhere on this card are slits for sliding a sticker into. Good luck!

Finally, we were ready to fold up the cards and seal them with the little sticker hearts universal to these kits. We’d just fold the names up inside and not worry about smearing anymore. Valentine fail #4.  We got a good way through this process when it occurred to me that with names folded inside, Buster wouldn’t know who each card was for.


Did you guess right? Congratulations! Only 23 more to go!

This must be a common mistake, because there are about four hearts for every card in the set. We ripped the hearts off the cards, folded them the other way, so Buster could try to interpret the smeared names on them, put them into a baggie, and tossed them in his school bag with the last of my Valentine’s spirit.


Thankfulness via poetic license

Buster likes to break up the monotony of family life by sharing his vast knowledge with me.

Some of his wisdom I assume he picked up in Kindergarten: “Five plus five is 10.”

Some I hope he hasn’t: “I know two bad words. Wanna hear ‘em?”

The other day he explained a hierarchy to me out of the blue: “It goes like this: baby, kid, big boy, daddy, grampa.”

“So, what will I be when you’re a daddy?” I asked.

Without hesitation: “You’ll probably die.”

Well, that’s that then, isn’t it?

Maybe not.

Since it’s Thanksgiving time, I decided I’m going to spin this episode toward Thankfulness.

You may wonder, “How exactly do you expect to manage that?”

I’m gonna tackle this blogger style – by linking to an old post. That’s how.

In this post from five years ago, Big Brother told his friend I was already dead. So you see, this new development is quite a reprieve for me. I am very thankful to have had these five years on Earth, and maybe several more, depending upon the length of Buster’s “big boy” phase.

In fact, I’m downright optimistic now. Having gained years of life between Big Brother and Buster, I expect by the time Big Man is heard I’ll be ready to live forever.

It appears I have a long life ahead of me, albeit among rotten children who anticipate my demise (joke’s on them when they see their legacies), and that, on balance, is something to be thankful for.


The family gives thanks for Daddy’s longevity despite its predictions to the contrary.

For Mommy

I asked Buster, “What should we get Mommy for Mother’s Day?”

“Probably something she likes,” was his reasoned reply.

“What do you think she would like?”

“I don’t know. Maybe you should ask her what she likes and then buy it for her.”

When it comes to thoughtful gift giving, Buster is a chip right off the old block.

I am old enough to have learned, without having to ask, one thing Mommy wants. That is to be told, once in a while, how much she is loved and appreciated. She isn’t told this as often as she deserves to be told. Mother’s Day is a great time to begin to make up the deficit.

This being the case, I present some words of love and appreciation for Mommy.


What is your Mother’s Day message for Mommy?

“Happy Mother’s Day, Mommy. I love you.”

How much do you love Mommy?

“More than bacon.”

A big heart full of big love for Mommy.


What is your Mother’s Day message for Mommy?

“I love you so much, Mommy. From me.”

How much do you love Mommy?

“One hundred.”

A medium heart full of big love for Mommy.


What is your Mother’s Day message for Mommy?

“Love Mommy.”

How much do you love Mommy?

“Big much.”

A little heart full of big love for Mommy.

Daddy also loves Mommy big much, one hundred, more than bacon, and also to the moon and back. As a group, we don’t tell her we love and appreciate her as much as we should, but we do love and appreciate her always, even when we are a mob of self-absorbed hooligans.

As important as it is to tell Mommy how we feel about her on Mother’s Day, I also recognize the wisdom of youth. I took Buster up on his suggestion and asked Mommy what she would like for a present. She’s getting that too.






There’s a Take Your Child to Work Day that has nothing to do with the babysitter not showing up

According to the posters on the walls at work, April 27 is Take Your Child to Work Day. I guess it’s nice there’s an official day for this, but I celebrate my own Take Your Child/Children to Work Days. This is what it’s called when both parents need to be at work and there is no babysitter to be had. Fortunately, I work in a child-safe environment and have supervisors who don’t care how many members of my family it takes to do my job so long as it gets done.

Per the fliers, our official Take Your Child to Work Day festivities are intended for children aged eight and up. This year I finally have a child who is old enough to celebrate the official holiday. Even so, I think we will be celebrating Leave Your Kid in School Day on April 27.

He’s much better off in school. He might learn something useful there and he will be allowed to hold on to a childlike optimism for the future.

Once upon a time, every day was Take Your Child to Work Day. The excitement of working without safety regulations was too much for the children, so they limited it to one day a year.

I infer from the guidelines that the organizers of Take Your Child to Work Day have studied the situation carefully and determined age eight is the time when children can really begin to understand the nature of grown-up work. This is a good piece of science to know; it tells me I should never bring any of my children who have reached this threshold to work with me again.

My under-eight children are still okay to bring, unofficially, of course, because they don’t have the capacity to understand just how unexciting my work is. They still believe whatever Daddy does on his keyboard in his little cubicle sets events in motion to save the world. Small children are delusional like that. It’s cute.

My eight-year-old son is now at the point where he can detect the pedestrian nature of paperwork and feel the repetitiveness of financial reports. Many jobs have a certain amount of repetitiveness in them and I’m not saying mine is worse than any other. I’m just not sure it’s the best end result to show a 3rd grader if you want to inspire him to reach for the stars in school.

I’ve tried to think of how I could make my job seem exciting to a kid. So far, the most enticing fact I could come up with is it brings home the money that buys the Cool Ranch Doritos. I’m still working on it.

The fruit of my toil.

All around my building are buildings filled with scientists. I’m holding out hope somebody will come up with Send Your Child to Work with a Nearby Scientist Day. Then the boy could maybe see how it feels to be a scientist discovering new isotopes. The only thing I can think of that might be more inspiring to him is knowing how it feels to be a scientist who discovers new video games.