Last night, as I sat with a second grader who was filling out 18 valentines (for the 16 other kids in her class, her teacher, AND the class teddy bear), I wondered what we’re teaching our kids by making them send valentines to every child in their class. Are we feeding a sense of fake friendship?
I remember convering shoeboxes with construction paper, doilies, and an excess of glitter. I remember thinking about my little second grade boy crushes. (yes, I mean little, by comparison. I was always taller than my crushes.) Deep down inside, I knew that the valentines they put in my little box with a box of Nerds taped onto it was obligatory. I knew they didn’t really care two cents about me. They were more concerned with worms and dirt and not getting cooties. But, in my mind – which is just a little bit on the overanalyzing side – if they signed their own name on it or drew a smiley face on it, they might just like me a little more than the little girl next to me.
See what I mean? Maybe I’m the only girl who ever overanalyxed a valentine. Maybe every other little child realizes that the acceptance and love they feel when they open a valentine from every child in their class is fake. Not that I don’t want kids to be loved, but isn’t there a way to do it genuinely?
We don’t want kids to be left out or to play favorites. But are we teaching them to pretend that they like everyone and create a false sense of friendship with sweet, impressionable 8-year-olds? (doesn’t that just break your heart?)
Maybe I’m just scarred. Maybe I’ve finally realized that all the kids who sent me valentines didn’t actually want to be friends. Maybe that bothers me – what wasn’t to like about me? Don’t answer that.
And maybe, just maybe, there’s a part of me deep down inside who thinks that we try a little too hard to make people think we care about them when we don’t. God calls us to love everyone, but He doesn’t say that you have to make people think you love them. It’s a heart issue.
Here’s my solution: If I can’t love someone genuinely, I’m not going to fake it. I’m not going to be over the top. I won’t spit on them or glare. But I don’t want to be the type of person who “lvoes” everyone but only really likes a few.
*steps off the soapbox*
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone.