Home > Uncategorized > Right back in the fourth grade…

Right back in the fourth grade…

Thursday was the last day of preschool before Valentine’s Day. I arrived at class concerned mostly about The Child’s apparel. It was frigging 55 degrees but there was still lots of (melting) snow on the ground. If I put her in snow pants, she’d roast. Without snow pants, she’d get soaked. What I needed were rain pants, right? But who buys rain pants in Feb.? Those are for April….

Such were my nattering and inconsequential thoughts that I didn’t even notice the two red cards on The Child’s cubby until someone else said, “Oh! Look! Valentine’s Cards, sweetie.”

And, silly me, I thought: Oh, how nice. The teachers got V-Day cards for the kids. I was about to start getting worried about whether or not I should have made cards for the two teachers when….

One of the other moms starts handing out cards from her kid.

Oh shit! All my social-mom alarms went off (as opposed to my parenting-mom alarms). Was I supposed to do that? Was The Child going to get teased since she didn’t have those?

Then, of course, out of the deep recesses of my misty childhood, came the terror of those horrible days in the fourth grade. The smell of wet wool seeping from the coat closet mixing with the stink of pb&j coming from brown bagged lunches. The carefully decorated “mail boxes” put onto our desks that were nothing more than tissue boxes covered with red construction paper and doilies. And the awkward giggling as everyone distributed the teacher-mandated one-per-child little penny-a-piece perforated punch-out Valentine’s Day Cards. The way the boys would punch each other and dare each other to put one in MY mailbox. The way that the popular girls would either deliberately drop them on the floor (and step on them) or flick them at me and get them in my face. The oh-so-charming inscription: “Dear Warty Face, Have a terrible Valentine’s Day!” or just “You stink!” I recall one that had a little bit of doggerel about feeding dogs. The details elude me.

One year — I think it was actually fifth grade — I just took them all home in a bag and dumped them in the garbage. My mother was appalled.

There was then a brief flash-forward to the ninth and tenth grade when I got dumped on two consecutive V-Days by the same guy and then I was back in a preschool classroom.

My panic subsided quickly when I realized none of the other moms had handed them out. (S and B later admitted that they’d thought of it, but hadn’t had time to buy any. I hadn’t even thought of it, though.)

But I’m starting to wonder just how many of these little land mines are waiting for me over the next fifteen years? How many times will I get ambushed by some awful memory that I’d completely forgotten?

More importantly, will these lurking booby traps screw up my ability to be a good mom to my kid? I don’t love the flashbacks, certainly, but they aren’t crippling or even tear-worthy. But what other social rituals have I forgotten (or never understood) just because I found them humiliating and exhausting? How am I supposed to teach The Child these things if I never learned them?

Anyway. Happy V-Day, from someone who thinks that every year further away from the fourth grade is a good year.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. February 18, 2009 at 5:52 am

    At the risk of sounding preachy and saccharine, I just have to say that while you may never be her expert on random and forced Valentine’s Day classroom rituals, the constant lessons you teach her about everything else that you detail here in this blog are infinitely more valuable. You’re a fantastic model.

    But, really, I also get what you’re saying. I want my kids to be happy at school, and sometimes I worry about the balance between the lofty ideas I have about how I hope they’ll be and act and how I just really want them to be comfortable and have buddies.

    Also–it turned my stomach to hear about how those kids treated you. Brought tears to my eyes.

  1. February 26, 2010 at 6:39 pm

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