Valentines in Kindergarten

Kindergarten was awful at first, then wonderful. My first kindergarten teacher had a temper problem and shouted at the kids from the first day.  I got beat up in the cloakroom, and she wouldn’t do anything about it.  This went on daily for a few weeks until my mom got me transferred to another school.  It’s been so long that I can’t remember anything else about that first school except for being shouted at, threatened and hit.  The second school was wonderful.  It was built in 1909 out of brown brick and dark wood in a kind of imitation Tudor/Gothic style.  I went to school there for five years, through fourth grade.

It was not a high-achieving school.  It was a place where they put old, experienced teachers out to pasture.  Fortunately, there’s more of value in life than having high test scores.  The old ladies and gentlemen who taught there knew this, and passed it on to their pupils.  At this school I learned about other countries, cultures and religions, how to be respectful and courteous, and a lot about American history.  I also gained a great appreciation for the arts, which I’ve never lost.  This was the school where the boy played Flamenco guitar, which I wrote about in “The Sensuous Strings”.

A week or so before February 14th we were told we would have a party for Valentine’s Day.  I didn’t really know much about it, but I hadn’t known much about Chanukah either until they introduced it to us the previous December and that had been really interesting.  I was game.  Our teacher explained that it wasn’t a historical holiday like Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, but an honorary holiday.  It’s a day people have chosen to honor something, and it has rituals, like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Chanukah.  Isn’t that a genteel, positive way of explaining it to a five year old?  Those teachers put the best spin on everything.  They must have contacted our parents with details, because we went shopping for Valentine’s Day cards.

These weren’t the big cards you opened up, with jokes or sentiments inside (and maybe money if they were from your grandparents).  These were little cards made from a single piece of paper.  There were ones shaped like cupid, and illustrations of flowers, and lots of variations of heart designs.  They contained simple, generic statements like “A Valentine for You” or “My Friend”.  We needed to buy enough for everyone in class.  I still didn’t have a clue why we were doing this, but the cards were colorful and I was curious to have the mystery explained come the fateful day.

Our Valentine’s Day party was at the end of the week, only two days after Lincoln’s birthday, so it was a busy week.  We were still kind of in Lincoln mode, and the walls still had his silhouette and photographs on them.  However, a new art theme appeared as the week went on.  We put up red streamers, and drew hearts and flowers and cupids to put up, and we cut out heart shapes with our round-edged scissors.  On the day of the party, our teacher wrote LOVE on the blackboard in very large letters.  She told us that love was important, that it made life meaningful, and that people who don’t get enough are hurt from the lack of it.  I’ll bet you know some of those people.  I do.

We all went around the classroom, selecting a card from the ones we had brought to place on each desk.  When the Valentines were all handed out, we went back to our seats to enjoy looking at the piles of colorful cards, which now represented something for us.  It was a gesture.  It was a way to honor something important.

Whether you are with others today, or alone, whether you choose to give remembrances in a tangible form, or whether you prefer to offer yours by saying it, touching someone, or just doing something nice, I hope each one of you may find a way to honor love.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Filed under Emotions, Self-Esteem, symbolism

22 responses to “Valentines in Kindergarten

  1. sarahbaram

    This is such a wonderfully written post. You should write more and turn it in to an essay! I know it would be great. I remember going out to buy those little cards and I must say, I still do. They are so cute and such a great gesture to hand out for fun to friends!

  2. Coming from a more accomplished and experienced author, I’m quite complimented. You are correct about the length. This is my sense of “blog post” length. Perhaps when I retire from patient care I will write more.

  3. I was homeschooled after kindergarten. What you have so eloquently described above is the same experience I had in kindergarten and that we adults have created in our interfaith group for children. In the week prior to February 14th the children make “generic” Valentines from recycled materials. Unsurprisingly, our theme is also Love and we also have a party where we share good time together.

    • I’m glad you’ve preserved the essential purpose of the holiday. I often think back on how much my life has been enriched by their not particularly caring about test scores. They just passed their centennial as a school, and they are still rated a 3 out of 10 because only test scores are used for the evaluation.

      • @invisiblemikey
        Today we hear a lot of blah, blah, blah about homeschooled kids not being socialized or well educated. What load of manure that is. My mother was a teacher and we lived in semi remote communities and remote locations in Canada. We also moved many times and lived in 3 Candian provinces and 3 American states. Whenever we moved we kids were compelled to attend local schools for 2 – 3 weeks in case our parents wanted to “change their minds” and so we could be put through academic testing.

        To make a long story short we were all honor students who were 2 -3 grades more advanced in our academic education than kids who were the same age as we were. We were also well mannered and responded appropriately to authority figures. During the 2 -3 week period of time that occurred every couple of years for us we kids endured the bullying and teasing of the institutionally schooled kids who had no manners and were out of control while eagerly awaiting the day when we would be allowed to remain at home and get a real education not only in academics but in country living and in civilzed behaviors.

        I graduated from highschool (I was compelled to attend one for 1 year) at age 14 with honor province wide grades in departmental exams and never looked back. I was 3rd from the top in my province and my siblings also did very well. I could run an entire ranch and the ranch hands and livestock for 2 weeks at a time when my mother was in hospital and father was at work, as well as, running our household and caring for the younger children.

        My education was well rounded because my parents sought out accomplished elders in the communities we lived in and they tutored us in additional subjects. The normal curriculum was easily accomplished in just 5 months time in any given year.

        So when I hear the blagh, blah, blah ethese days I laugh out loud. I currently reside in a semi-remote location where many kids are homeschooeled and my husband and I have volunteered in children’s organizations for years. Guess who the smartest and best behaved kids are in those groups are. Hands down it’s the home schooled kids. The rest tend to be ill educated and ill mannered but it doesn’t take long for them to get the picture when they deal with us. they either adopt decent behaviors or we refuse to allow them onto the clubs and organizations we volunteer in.

        • I’m glad to learn that home-schooling works. I haven’t enough experience to have anything to add, but thanks for telling me about yours. I was already in college by the time that movement began, so aside from my knowing a bit about the Amish it all passed me by. I never met anyone who had been home-schooled or was providing it until I was an adult, so I don’t have any bias for or against. Whatever works is ok by me.

          I will say that it is regrettable that people too often confuse knowledge with wisdom. That’s something I might have clarified better in the post.

  4. This is a lovely post. You were lucky to end up in such a good school after an unfavourable start to your education.

    Interestingly, I heard on the radio this morning about a report on the state of our education today in the UK. Because the main focus is on pupils passing tests, which improves the school’s league tables and gets them ready for work, the things that are not as easy to measure like music, artistic ability, sports and spiritual wellbeing (not necessarily religious) are shoved to the side. This makes for a less well rounded and happy human being. More love in all its forms needs to be a primary focus now. We can all find a way to make a crust if we’re determined enough, but it’s harder to gain the wellness that comes from the right kind of early nurturing later in life.

  5. Thanks for the entertaining read! Alright playtime is over and back to school work.

  6. lol many of the comments visitors enter are just absurd, over and over i ask myself whether they even read the content pages and reports before leaving your 2 cents or if perhaps they basically skim the subject of the post and write the very first idea that drifts into their heads. anyway, it is good to browse through clever commentary occasionally instead of the very same, classic blog vomit that i generally , observe on the web

    • I edit out the absurd ones that are non-clever formula spam invites. If this is an invite to your Facebook poker page, at least it’s a clever one. Either way, I’m happy you enjoy the comments here. I do too.

  7. Reblogged this on Invisible Mikey and commented:

    (Back by Popular Demand! Thanks for the requests.)

  8. I like your post, but still hate Valentine’s Day. I cannot get past the commodification of love and the implied connections of giving and receiving cards/gifts.

    • That’s okay. Give love. There’s never enough. Offer your time and your attention. Ask for what you need from others too. Make all days holy by giving and receiving what is truly valuable. Thanks for contributing!

  9. Christina Moss, Author

    Great story. It sent me back to the joyful pleasures and horrible mistreatment. Mine was the opposite–kindergarten was a wonderful new world and grades 1-4 were torture. Then I switched schools and life improved considerably. But even the horrible years had wonderful memories, and the Valentine celebration was one of them.

    • My distant memories have acquired a Dickensian filter 😉 I’ll bet it’s fascinating for you to explore how early experiences become material for your fiction, Christina. I’m glad you enjoyed reading this. It was the first time I found a “personal” voice for a blog article, compared to my previous op-ed posts.

  10. I love that you were asked to bring Valentine’s for everyone so no one was left out. And, I really love what your teacher said about love after writing it on the blackboard. So simple, really!

    • No one should be left out! There’s a kind of assumption built into our way of living that there must always be “haves” and “have nots”. There’s no reason that must apply to intangibles like smiles, kindness and the invitation of friendship. That teacher did a lot for me. Thanks, Sandra.

  11. Happy day after Valentine’s Day! This year I bought myself a box of York Peppermint Pstties shaped like hearts, took myself out to eat, and had a fine time of it. Hope you had a good Valentine’s day.
    I think I still have some of my old grade school Valentine’s somewhere stashed in my overflowing closets. This post is indeed a classic!

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