The other weekend I sat with Team Testosterone and a few boxes of Batman valentines. Mr. T and Mr. B duly copied the names of their classmates, signed their name in the "From" space and folded them in two. Mr. G scribbled a bit on each of his and I rewrote his signature in a more legible fashion. All three boys worked diligently, picking up each card off the pile as they went down the line of classmates and their biggest concerns were:
1) how quickly they could complete the task at hand so they could go play
2) what kind of candy I'd buy to tape to the cards.
When I was little, writing out my Valentine's Day cards took forever. I'd personally select each card for each child in my class, making sure the message on the card ("Valentine, you're out of this world" or "Bee Mine, Valentine") was exactly what I wanted to convey to my classmates. There were subtle differences that I detected, a picture of a cat was good for a girl classmate, not a boy. Anything that sounded romantic ("Let's monkey around, Valentine") had to be used for only the nicest boys in my class, lest the icky ones get any weird ideas. My best friends got the biggest, prettiest cards in the box of 25 purchased at the local five and dime.
On Valentine's day I'd come home from school with my white paper sack, decorated with glitter and hearts, and pore through the messages I'd received. Sighing with contentment, I'd nod, thinking, "That's exactly right," as I read each card. And I'd save the cards to re-read for days and weeks to come.
My sons come home on Valentine's Day and dump their bags onto the carpet, rip off the cards and toss them aside as they go straight for the candy. The card is inconsequential, a sort of gift wrap or garnish that accompanies the important part of Valentine's Day for them--the miniature chocolate bar or the tiny bag of Skittles.
And then we grow up into adults with two very different perceptions of the holiday. Women have expectations because for us the day has meaning and significance--and our Valentine's Day card/gift damn well better demonstrate that to us in as unique a fashion as humanly possible. Men have no expectation for Valentine's Day, and generally have little sense that anything is expected of them. They go through the motions to fulfill their "obligation," all the while thinking about what is important to them (food, sex, NASCAR, tax returns, college basketball scores, you get the picture).
What do you think, readers? Is our adult treatment of Valentine's Day reflective of our childhood treatment? Do you see your children, boys and girls both, reflecting adult behavior on Valentine's Day? Or does Green Girl need to lay off the coffee a little bit?