Last week was Valentine’s Day. And this year we—and by we, I mean me and perhaps the Girl—were going to hand make all our Valentine’s Day cards for Monkey Boy. We had a plan, too. We were going to pick 30 small, colorful and interesting rocks from our garden (we’ve got thousands) and make pet rocks with googly eyes, an alternative to candy. The Girl said she had a bunch of googly eyes in her craft box and plenty of hot glue sticks to glue on the eyes. I had plenty of small clear plastic bags for the pet rocks and lots of cardstock for the “You Rock” Valentine’s Day cards. Perfect.

Except it didn’t turn out that way. Last week, we had two snow days due to an ice storm The week before we had two snow days due to the Polar Vortex. We didn’t travel much outside of the house. And the Girl never dug the googly eyes out of her craft box inside the house. I was caught up in the middle of a design project for a client and never designed Monkey Boy’s Valentine’s Day cards.

Still, I was hopeful.

It took several days of near nagging when the Girl finally dug out her stash of googly eyes. According to her definition, she had a stash to end all stashes of googly eyes. If the apocalypse happened tomorrow, we would be set with a lifetime supply of googly eyes.

Except we wouldn’t be set. She did not have an Armageddon-sized stash. What she did have were enough eyes to make pet rocks for approximately 13 kids, if all 13 kids wanted mutant pet rocks. There are 29 kids in Monkey Boy’s class. There were going to be a lot of very sad kids, but not because of the lack of mutant pet rocks—mostly because they weren’t getting candy, Monkey Boy told me.

So, at the end of the second snow day, the day before V day, and after B had cleared the ice from the driveway, we all piled in the car and headed out to pick out generic store-bought Valentine’s Day cards.

And so did every other family in town.

By the time we got to the store, almost all the cards were gone. There were a few boxes of the scratch-off glittery bookmark cards, a few boxes of Fun Dip Valentine’s candy cards, and some monster-pin cards. No Spider Man cards, no Avengers cards, no Wonder Woman or Superman cards, no Peanuts cards, no joke cards, no Barbie cards, no Frozen cards, no Power Rangers cards, no Nintendo cards, no Minecraft cards, no monkey or dinosaur cards. None.

“Here are some cute cards,” I said to Monkey Boy. I picked up the monster pin box and showed it to him. I needed two boxes to cover all the student’s in Monkey Boy’s class. I saw there was one other box left on the shelf, and I grabbed it before three other parents could get it. “I think this is a great choice.”

“No. I don’t like those.”

 “What else would you like?” I asked waving my hand in front of the near-empty shelves.

 “These,” he said pointing to some weird adventure camping cards with pins.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, let’s get those and go.” He grabbed the last two boxes and threw them into the cart. Then he grabbed a bag with enough rolls of Smarties for each kid in his class because apparently this day is all about the candy. So much for my plan to keep the holiday candy-free.

I turned to the Girl and asked, “Is there something you would like to get for your little friends?” And it was as every bit as sardonic as you can imagine. She’s 14.

“I don’t know,” she replied.

“Here’s some colorful unicorn pins…” I said picking up the box. And anyone who knows the Girl knows she tends to dress monochromatically but she does like rainbow unicorns.

“Oh, they’re so ironic. I want those.” And then she picked up the box and tossed it into the cart. I’m not really sure I know her definition of ironic.

A few minutes later and several trips around the store, we found the candy conversation hearts…in tropical fruit flavor five-packs. I grabbed a pack for Monkey Boy and two for the Girl and instructed them to give a box them to their favorite friends. Of course, I thought this was very generous because when I was a kid, my mom would get me one box of conversation hearts and I had to share them among all my classmates. The first thing I would is empty the box, count and divide. And then carefully decide which kid got what candy heart, because when I was a kid, those candy hearts were quite telling and prophetic. You didn’t give the “I Love You” or “Kiss Me” to just anyone. The day after V day was when everyone in the class knew both the crushes and heartbreaks.


Once we got home, I sat down at the table with Monkey Boy to go over the class list and help him sign his cards.  “This is really hard, Momma,” he said.

“You’re just signing your name.”

“I know, but it’s hard.”

So I signed his name. (It was just easier that way.) And then I tried to attach the adventure pins to the cards. I unlatched the pins, threaded the sharp end through the pre-punched hole and attempted to relatch the pins…with very little success. After a few kinda munched cards, I grabbed the scotch tape and taped the pins to the cards I signed. I also taped a Smarties roll to each card and then taped the card closed. Monkey Boy sat there and watched me. When I was finished, he smiled and said, “Good job, Momma.”


The next day, I sent him to school with all his cards and Candy Conversation heart boxes addressed to his best friends and last year’s Valentine’s mailbox—the one he made for last year’s class celebration because it was still in good shape and he didn’t feel artsy enough to create a new box.

When I picked him up from school at the end of the day, he had a heart-shaped lollipop dangling from mouth.

“How was your party?” I asked.

“Great!” he said with a smile.

“Can I see your Valentine’s?” I asked hoping to get a glimpse of his cards to see if just perhaps if some little girl in his class gave him a Conversation Heart.

“I ate them all,” he said. “They were good.”

“What about the cards?”

“They were good, too. They said some sweet things, but I threw them away.”