I’ve spent the day (no, not really. I did other things too) trying to decide if my daughter’s decision not to hand out Valentine’s Day cards at school was selfish or smart.
It all started a week and a half ago in the aisles of our local pharmacy. I saw a box of cards with a character she likes and suggested we buy them for handing out.
“Oh. Do you mean you want to hand out something else?”
“No. I don’t want to hand out anything.”
Huh. This was a new one.
A little poking and prodding later, I got to the meat of the problem: her teacher had imposed an all or no one rule. In other words, if your child wanted to hand out Valentine’s cards / stickers / whatnot, they had to give one to everyone in the class or none at all. Fair enough: Mrs. S. has better things to do than spend the afternoon dealing with drama and hurt feelings because so-and-so got a card but so-and-so didn’t.
Nikki didn’t want to give a card to everyone. She felt it was unfair that she was being forced to send what are ostensibly messages of love and friendship to people she disliked or at least didn’t see eye to eye with. Fair enough too. Her response was that she would hand out something to her friends at another time: some cool erasers we saw at the toy store the week before would be just the ticket. “And it won’t be so much money because there are only…” and she stopped to count on her fingers… “six people I want to give them to.”
We spend a lot of time telling kids that they don’t have to hug people that they don’t want to; that they should express their true feelings about things and never be fake. Well, Nikki was demonstrating that full on. Yet, I couldn’t help thinking that she was being a wee bit selfish. After all, what would it cost her to hand out a “Smencil” to each and every kid, even the one who knocks her into her bag every other day while she’s struggling to get her snow pants off?
I wondered if perhaps my thoughts on her being selfish were more a question of my being afraid of other people’s perceptions with regards to the ‘no card’ decision rather than the actual reality.
So, I decided that she had the right to decide who she was going to send messages of friendship to and if that wasn’t everyone, it would have to be no one. A stronger position than I would EVER have been able to take at that age (seven) and more power to her.