St. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. This holiday is much more than a way to make single people hate their lives. With it comes memories from my own childhood and past years of teaching. One rule I do have in all my classrooms is there is absolutely no glitter allowed. It gets on everything, and it never comes off. Next thing you know you are grocery shopping and the cashier asks if you realize that you have glitter all over your face. Anyway… you never know what will happen in elementary school classrooms, especially on this holiday. Once Cupid and hearts get involved, anything is possible.
I remember when I was in 3rd or 4th grade and I was all about cutting corners. I wanted to spend the least amount of time possible with the mundane things. One thing I hated taking time to do was filling out Valentines for my classmates. I would start with a bunch of random Valentine cards. Then I would have to sign my name on the actual Valentines, place it in an envelope, lick it close, and then write down the student’s name it was going to on the front of the envelope. I figured I could at least eliminate one step in this process. I chose to not write down any of my classmates’ names on the envelope. I was freestyling this Valentine’s Day.
As all my classmates started handing out their Valentines the next morning at school, I was still patting myself on the back from my great idea the night before. I walked around the classroom throwing out envelopes on desks like I was delivering newspapers. I was able to sit back down in my seat a full couple minutes earlier than everyone else. That is when I quickly noticed my plan was extremely flawed.
As other kids started opening their Valentines, I started getting questionable glances from around the room. I felt like all eyes were on me. Then one of my girl classmates approached me smiling in an evil sort of way. She was holding up one of my Valentines. “Ryan,” she said with no mercy, “I didn’t know that you loved me so much.” The Valentine’s card that I sent her unknowingly declared on the front that I would love her forever. I unwittingly played Valentine’s Day Russian roulette by handing out my cards without any clue of which ones went to which people.
As I slowly sunk deeper and deeper into my chair, a couple other girls came up to me giggling. Then a couple of the boys in the class were wondering what I meant exactly with the cards they had received. It was not one of my best days in school. By the time I climbed on to the bus at the end of the day, I had three new possible girlfriends and a few other classmates that didn’t want to speak to me. As a nine-year-old kid, these were all things I never wanted.
Imparting My Wisdom
Once I started teaching elementary school, ironically 3rd through 5th grades, I started sharing that story with my students a couple days before each Valentine’s Day. Since they were my target audience for this story, they really enjoyed it. They could definitely identify with it. It was sort of a Scared Straight program (without the use of prison inmates) for little kids about the possible outcome of cutting corners in life. Every year we joked around a lot after I told the story, and then later I would receive funny Valentines from most of them in return. Many of them covered in glitter. Those kids…