I was in the craft store last week, pacing back and forth in front of the Valentine's Day displays and trying to make a decision. Was I going to help my kids produce a selection of lovingly hand-crafted Valentine's cards for their classmates, something perhaps inspired by a clever Pinterest design and featuring a custom font based on their actual handwriting? Or was I going to say fuck it, and buy the crappy pre-made pack of Spider-Man cards?
The thing is, my kids don't care what kind of valentines they hand out. It's my theory that valentines, much like birthday invitations and party decorations and cake designs, are less about the kids—and more about impressing the other parents.
You know what would have made the whole valentine card decision a lot easier? A parental pact, that's what. A legally binding agreement between all interested mothers that levels the playing field. WHO'S WITH ME?
Here's a few things I'd love for us all to agree on:
MY PARENTAL PACT — IT IS HEREBY AGREED AS FOLLOWS:
I. PLAYDATES, PREPARATION & CLEANLINESS
Should the playdate be held at my house, I will preemptively tidy my house only to the degree that you will not feel called upon to wear a biohazard suit upon entering the premises, nor will you find it necessary to dip your child in bleach afterwards. Said tidying will not include polishing furniture, applying floor wax, or hurriedly baking a tray of blueberry muffins for the sole purpose of making the house smell like blueberry muffins.
Should the playdate be held at your house, you will do the same favor for me. Should you wish to go above and beyond the definitions of this Agreement, you will leave the dishes unwashed and allow there to be a host of LEGO or LEGO-type materials strewn upon the carpet.
II. CRAFTS, HOLIDAY OR OTHERWISE
I promise to pin craft projects on Pinterest for entertainment purposes only. Under no circumstances will I actually attempt any of these activities, nor will I offer them as gifts in lieu of store-bought items, nor will I distribute them to all of the children in my child's classroom.
If you are capable of producing delicious marzipan concoctions that resemble Star Wars characters, adorable DIY infant mobiles assembled from paint chip samples, or homemade cards that include pop-up figurines that sing and dance, you will refrain from performing these supernatural feats in my presence, and will in fact humorously downplay your abilities while surreptitiously hurrying me past your dedicated gift wrapping room.
III. BIRTHDAY PARTIES: INVITATIONS & DECOR
It will be mutually understood that party invitations should not be stamped into slabs of artisan chocolate nor should they be hand-sewn onto paper impregnated with wildflower seeds. The actual party decor should include at least one piece of garish cartoon merchandise insisted upon by the child, and color themes should not extend to the hostess's earrings and the soaps in the guest bathroom.
We will agree, once and for all, whether "No gifts, please" really DOES mean "No gifts, please," or if that's some kind of bullshit code for "Of COURSE bring gifts, this is a child's birthday party, are you some kind of monster?"
Lastly—and the undersigned realizes this may be a controversial item—we hereby agree to abolish the obnoxious tradition of party favors.
IV. BENTO-STYLE LUNCHES WITH LIKE TWELVE DIFFERENT TINY MEALS
I will not do these. You will not do these. We shall formally agree that a soggy PB&J in a reused baggie is a perfectly fine lunch, scurvy be damned.
SIGNED, LINDA SHARPS of SEATTLE, WASHINGTON
Would you sign up for these? What would you add?
(PS: I totally bought the Spider-Man cards. They were, unsurprisingly, the most unthoughtful piece of low-quality merchandising ever. Also, my kids think they're awesome.)
Image via Flickr/erikbenson