Linda’s Stream-of-Consciousness prompt for February 14: attach/attachment
Why do I have such a sentimental attachment to pieces of paper? This morning, I began a half-hearted attempt to straighten up our “Valentines” drawer (no pun intended). Not every household has a Valentines drawer, I would guess? But, if you have five children and you have often lowered yourself to purchasing those inexpensive, character-related boxes of Valentines, you eventually wind up with quite the stash of unused Valentines.
Actually, if my kids had gone to a school, we probably would not have ended up with leftover Valentines, year after year. The one year that two of my kids attended a traditional school, we used up most of the Valentines. Occasions like Valentines pose a bit of a problem for homeschoolers — for this homeschooler, anyway. Sure, sometimes there might be a homeschool Valentine’s Day party, but that event is likely to be run by the high-minded type of person who prefers homemade Valentines. So, even if my children did have a Valentine’s party to attend, likely they would be industriously cutting and pasting their own, rather than for once using up all the premade, store-bought Valentines. (My daughters would have been industriously making their own; not to stereotype here, but my daughters tended to be fonder of making Valentines than their brothers.)
I prefer homemade Valentines myself, and, once upon a time, I enjoyed making my own, complete with original poetry. But there is an undeniable appeal to those premade Valentines — or maybe that’s just my superficial love of most things Disney? I had a craft planned for my youngest son’s Valentine efforts this year, but, as with so many of my best-laid plans, that one fell victim to time constraints: at the last minute, I was putting together some less-than-great Valentine “packages” (can one call a bubble mailer a “package”?) for my three kids currently not residing at home, and, if David wanted to add a Valentine, he had to use one of the premade kind.
There is such a wide selection of Valentines in that drawer by now that I didn’t even bother buying David a new box this year. Here’s what an informal inventory found in that drawer (which is becoming difficult to close): Iron Man with pencils, Avengers, Lego Ninjago, Lego City, Lego Star Wars, 12 Dancing Princesses, Pixar foil, Mad Libs with pencils, paper airplanes, wild animals with tattoos, Indiana Jones with tattoos, and — here’s a throwback — even Teletubby Valentines. There were a few Harry Potter, Narnia, and Incredible Valentines kicking about the drawer, but the Harry Potter Valentines have proved to be a favorite, year after year; there aren’t many HP Valentines left. Who doesn’t love a Harry Potter Valentine, or a Narnia one? There were even a few Angelina Ballerina Valentines, and a random Blues Clues Valentine. Bob the Builder was represented, along with Winnie-the-Pooh and the Veggie Tales characters (not many of those left, either).
No doubt this is one of many reasons that my house tends to disorder, but I did not feel at all inclined to throw any of the Valentines away. Not even the sticker Valentine featuring the raccoon from Pocahantas (Meeko, I think?). Not even the stickers of Tubby Toast. The day is coming when I may have to empty out the drawer, but when I see the Snow White Valentine and the stickers left from some NFL Valentines, I see the faces of my oldest children as they looked, a few years back. To throw away the Teletubby Valentines is a tacit acknowledgment that my house is no longer filled with small children. Yes, I am a sentimental fool to get choked up over a drawer filled with remnants of Valentines past. Who knew that those crazy days would fly by so quickly?
Undoubtedly I am more sentimental than usual this particular Valentine’s Day because the house is quieter than usual. My husband and youngest son have gone to an out-of-town chess tournament, and my youngest daughter spent the morning at a breakfast event and is passing the rest of her day at the ballet studio where she spends so much of her time. That just leaves me, trying to catch up on laundry and housework. That also leaves me with a little too much time for pausing and reflecting as I sort the leftover Valentines into their respective boxes — Cars and Monsters Inc into this box, Barbie and her friends into that box.
If I had the power to bring back those days of too many kids to keep up with and too little time in which to do it, I would not — not because those were overwhelming times, but because I know that growing up is what children do. I’m glad to have a tangible remnant of my youngest son’s passion for the Lego Ninjago characters, of my middle son’s fondness for Indiana Jones, of the characters that they loved — for a while — before they moved on, from Thomas the Tank Engine, and Buzz and Woody, to Transformers and Avengers. But I talked to two of my sons today, and you know? They’re happy to be making their own choices, living their own lives. I pray that they, too, will someday know the joy of helping a small child address a box of Valentines.
This post was written as part of Linda’s Stream-of-Consciousness Saturday event. To join in, read the rules, or find other submissions, click on her post.