I've always been a bit of a misery guts about Valentine's Day and it doesn't take a spell on a shrink's couch to determine that this stems from my childhood. You see, I was the kid in the class who never got a card.
Not a single lovestruck (actually I'd have settled for just vaguely interested) boy ever left a red envelope on my desk or posted one through the gap under my locker door. And to make matters worse, this was despite the odds being weighted in my favour - boys outnumbered girls two to one at my school back then.
February 14 felt like a hideous 24-hour long popularity contest and I was the biggest loser. My classmates would have stood making L signs on their foreheads at me, had that juvenile gesture been invented in those days.
Such recollections underpin why I'd prefer to delay my own son's introduction to this Valentine's business. But it's getting harder, because, as we all know, it's increasingly about exactly that – business. As evidenced the other day when an email arrived in my inbox advertising 'Valentine's gifts'. The 'perfect present' on offer was neither a beautiful bouquet for a wife nor saucy undies for a girlfriend, but heart-printed children's clothing.
Granted the garments concerned looked very sweet but hang on a minute, since when were kids meant to get presents – be they from parents or pint-sized 'partners' - on February 14th? In the UK at least, isn't this a day to celebrate grown-up, romantic love rather than the familial variety? And besides, my husband and I can barely muster a card for each other, so I'm sure as heck not starting to buy something for my son.
The idea that either parents should get their children gifts, or kids should start buying things for each other is frankly ludicrous. I hold my hands up guiltily here for using such a cliché but it really is 'commercialism gone mad'.
I don't want to be my son's Valentine; I'm his mum, not his sweetheart.
So with this in mind, can we make a pact not to encourage a 'what did you get for Valentine's from your mum/ dad' type arms race? Can we please skip the presents and keep the 14th February for the adults?
Certainly, for now, if I have my way, all that date is going to bring my son is a slightly early night, allowing my husband and I the rare luxury of a dinner for two rather than three.
Valentine's for kids?
Think carefully before sending teenagers an 'anonymous' card yourself – they will spend days agonising over who their secret admirer is, only to find that actually it was you. It's just not what they will have been hoping for.
If young children say they want to send a 'girlfriend' or 'boyfriend' a card, suggest a home-made effort rather than buying (often tacky) shop-bought numbers and do at least try and steer them clear of the bright red, lace trimmed heart-shaped miniature cushion type tat.
Add to the pressure by asking if they got any cards as soon as they get in from school.
Tease or grill them too much if they do receive one (or several) – they might well be embarrassed.
Get them into the habit of expecting a present from you – there are plenty of other times of the year for that.
Liat Hughes Joshi is the author of Raising Children: The Primary Years, published by Prentice Hall Life and available on Amazon.
Do you think giving or receiving Valentine's presents from your children, especially when made at school, is, well, a bit creepy?
Or do you think it's lovely?
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