I love making valentines. Somewhere along the way, I figured out my favorite method for producing these little cards, which mostly consists of a layered collage of heart cut-outs. I vary the materials- one year I got particularly creative with some leftover origami paper with intense, graphic patterns; sometimes ribbons and feathers make it into the mix- but the general make up is the same. This year, Clio will be exchanging valentines for the first time at school, and so, after a brief internal debate over the Disney Princess card kits (because we all know how Clio feels about Disney Princesses), I decided to introduce her to my method.
We decided on the basic scheme together: a red background with "ruffled" edges at the top and the bottom, layered with a pink construction paper element (hearts, ruffled-hearts, or a rectangle with heart cutouts), then "decorated" with slips of ribbon and glitter and/or metallic heart stickers. I had never actually employed stickers in this process before, but Clio likes them and this was really her project.... right?
So far, we have made about 22 of these, over the course of the two nights. (We need 30 for school, plus a few extras for non-school friends). As we go, Clio grows more confident in her decorating, and I have loosened up- a little. I will admit, at first I was one of those moms who thought her child was doing it "wrong" and tried to keep her "on track." But more and more, I remembered that Clio has a very artistic eye, and that she would likely come up with some ways of decorating that would never have occurred to me (I tend to be a little rigid. You're surprised, I know.) Indeed, I was right. I like how there was generally a method to her madness, like filling in a heart cutout with stickers, or lining tiny little stickers up all along the edges of a heart. the only control I continued to exert was not letting her use the grown up scissors to cut the ribbon (just a physical challenge and possibly dangerous).
I also remembered a scene from the movie Six Degrees of Separation, where the Donald Sutherland character, an art dealer, is telling a story about the artwork he encountered at a local school; in all of the classrooms, the work was a mess, colors muddy, paper laden, except in second grade. In second grade, "picassos, every one". He wonders aloud whether this is developmental, if there is something peculiar that happens to a child at this age. No, the teacher tells him; I just know when to take their drawings away from them. A revelation. Mostly, Clio knew when her cards were finished, but on occasion I did have to save her from herself.
My last stress about this? I wonder if she will be the only one to bring homemade cards to school and if, upon realizing that Disney Princess valentines (and Dora and Spongebob, etc.) exist, if she will regret the ones we made. But I don't think so. I believe the spirit of valentines is to make or choose them with care to express love, friendship, or admiration, and I truly hope that, during her valentine's celebration, Clio will feel nothing but pride and delight at the little piece of herself that she will give to each of her friends.