Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Homemade cards, really?

I always liked the idea of homemade cards. So heartfelt. Red and pink and white paper, glue, scissors, heart shapes, markers, ah the fun. My kids had made them before for the family. It did not matter what they looked like, if they were legible, or if they were done in a timely fashion. It was all about fun and creativity and self expression.

Oh, about December 28, the stores start stocking the bare Christmas shelves with Valentine's paraphernalia. So sometime mid-January, the kiddos and I were at Wal-Mart. When you walk in to our store, just to the right is the seasonal craziness. So I took that first right and we found ourselves standing in a sea of hearts and teddy bears and candy boxes and goody bag favors and of course, rows and rows of boxed Valentine's. Perfect little boxes with the right number of cards and tiny envelopes. Most of them even had stickers, some had suckers, or stamps. And they all had a special "teacher card." There were Princess ones, iCarly ones, Toy Story ones, Transformer ones, you name it! Standing in the middle of this cornucopia of Valentine's goodness, I look over to my sweet children and ask, "Do you see any Valentine's you like?" I could have stopped there. I should have stopped there. I could have steered them, encouraged them to choose the $2.50 per box prepackaged and ready to go Valentine's, perfect for every member of their respective classes.

But I didn't. I went further. I added, "Or you could make your own Valentine's." Both of my sweet children stopped looking around because they LOVED this idea. So we promptly went and selected some red and white card stock. We stocked up on construction paper. We found envelopes. We even picked out some precious red, white, and pink doilies to glue on to the cards. We were all set. And hey, it was not even February. We had PLENTY of time to complete 13 cards for Spencer's class and 25 for Jessa's. Right? Right??

Oh. My. Word. This was an ordeal to say the least.

I set them up all the supplies on one end of the kitchen table. I even left them out. For weeks. So that anytime they were so inclined, or anytime I decided to force them, the supplies were ready.

Spencer's had to be finished first because he only has school through Wednesday. The problem with Spencer is that he is a perfectionist. We call him "little Emory" because he is JUST like my Poppy. He is overly concerned with everything being perfect. He is slow and deliberate. He has to check every detail. So if he messed up a letter here or there or the glue was too thick, he would get so upset. We both needed meds to get through it (only kidding. . .). I keep trying to tell him that he is light years ahead of where Jessa was at his age. He has the advantage of an older sister whom he adores that LOVES to teach him. She would never have even attempted to write all the names of her whole class in preschool! But he not only attempted it, but he did it. And they looked darn good. (sorry, no pictures, we were in a rush and I forgot. . .)

His teacher was bummed at first because they wanted the kids to NOT write the names of their friends. They wanted them only signed so that they could just put them in any bag without having to worry about which went where. But they decided that if Spencer could write them, then he could probably read them well enough to match them with the right mailbox. And he did. Way to go buddy!

Then there was Jessa. She has a few perfectionist tendencies. But her biggest problem is that everything is so dramatic. This makes things take longer. Much longer. And it makes things so much more difficult.

She started working on hers several times. She even got a good start addressing envelopes. After her first card making session. She had 8 envelopes addressed and 1 card made. Want to know who the completed card was for? Herself. Yep. Time is ticking away. So much to do. And she spent forever working on a Valentine for Jessa. It said, "To: Jessa" and "From: Jessa." Priorities.

So the days go by. It is closer and closer to her party at school. She had a stomach virus. She has ballet, tap, Awana, play dates, and before we know it, it is the Thursday before her party. They HAVE to be finished. She decided she wanted to work in the den. I set it all up for her. It was right at her fingertips.

But did she hop right in and get to work? Oh, no! Conditions had to be perfect. I had to sit with her. I had to help her. I had to hold her hand. It is mighty hard to complete Valentine's cards while holding someone's HAND! It took hours. Her had hurt. She was tired. Her back hurt. She needed a break.

And finally, she made a tough decision. She was going to quit. I walked back into the room to check on her, and she was still sitting on the stool she selected at the counter she selected. But she had packed up all her supplies and removed them. She was all propped up there with her crayons. Coloring. What? Yep, coloring. She was too tired to finish her Valentine's. Her back hurt too bad to lean over and work, but she was all cool to COLOR.

It was time to pull out all the stops. I walked into the room and said that it was just fine for her to not finish her Valentine's. She looked up at me, shocked. Then I told her that IF she chose not to complete her Valentine's that I would be happy to check her out of school just before the party on Friday. She did not like the sound of that. I explained that the highlight of the party was handing out Valentine's and if someone did not complete them that they could not stay for the party. I know. It was hardball, but it was almost 9 o'clock on the night before they had to be finished. I had to get her moving.

She reluctantly got back to it. I did have to stand next to her the whole time. I did have to rub her back off and on. I did have to offer her praise and all sorts of compliments. I did have to constantly keep her on track. And she did FINALLY finish all her Valentine's. All 26. You know 25 for her class, and one for herself.

And the whole time I was handing her glue and envelopes, I was thinking of that day on the card aisle at Wal-Mart when I uttered those fateful words:
"Or you could make your own Valentine's."
What was I thinking. . .


The Stahl Family said...

I love this one and the way that you write...the real raw details of parenting. So fun, and yes, i got the $2.99 box this year and had tons of guilt since mine were not handmade.

Aunt Barb said...

Ahhh Dana! You are the BEST at keeping things real but wonderfully funny. Happy Valentines Day to a great mom!