child's valentineValentine's Day is nearly upon us, and you know what that means. All across the land, little kids have spent recent hours painstakingly printing out the names of their little friends on paper hearts. In just a matter of days, these little cuties who have put heart and soul into crafting their love notes for their pals are about to be upstaged ... by parents.

You know which parents I'm talking about. They spent hours on Pinterest, scrolling through idea after idea after idea, on the hunt for the cleverest and cutest of Valentines. Hours more were wasted in the craft store, dragging exhausted children into "just one more aisle" before they headed home, plopped the kids in front of the TV, and got to work ... on their kids' Valentine's Day cards

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The fruits of their labor will be stunning, I'm sure. No globs of glue or dribbles of paint in sight. They will come home in my daughter's backpack, and as I paw through the pile of Valentines, they will stand heads and tails above the others in terms of "quality."

And yet, I will know they did not come from any of her pals. No 8-year-old I've met has ever crafted anything that I've seen on Pinterest (at least nothing that gets repinned on the regular).

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Which is why these beauties will be shifted immediately to the bottom of the pile as I ooh and ahh over the misshapen hearts and the store-bought cartoon-covered rectangles with bad penmanship. The worse the cards look, the more sure I'll be that they came from a kid like mine, a kid who cared enough to put a little time and effort into making their friend smile.

Isn't that the point of Valentine's Day when you're 8? They're way too young to pin any romantic notions to February 14.

At 6, 7, 8, 9, even 10, the point of handing out Valentines to their classmates is still supposed to be about friendship ... and kindness. But what, exactly, is kind about waltzing into class with a backpack full of picture perfect crafts your mom Martha'd up over the weekend? It's not thoughtful in the least.

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And it certainly doesn't make the kids who spent hours on their cards feel terribly appreciated.

It's not that I'm against homemade cards, folks. Far from it. I'm a Pinterest junkie of the first degree, and I found more than a half dozen projects that were perfect for kids to make this holiday. I don't even have a problem with parents who help their kids with their Valentines -- it can be a great family bonding project.

Only, the key word here is "help." Not do. Help. If you want your kids to actually get anything out of Valentine's Day besides a stomach ache from all that candy, you'll back off ... and stop making our kids' creations look bad.

But then, our kids come by their messy cards honestly ...

How much help do you give your kids with their Valentines?

 

Image by Jeanne Sager