This wasn't the first time I heard this sentiment though. I was surprised to read it on the Matt Walsh Blog too:
"I still have my pity-trophy, it’s right up there on my pity-mantle, next to my pity-game ball and the mandatory Valentine’s cards I only received because elementary school rules required every child to give one to every other child."He had me agreeing with most of what he said until that point. Because I'm trying to see what trophies have to do with kids receiving Valentines along with every other child on Valentine's Day. I wasn't aware it was an award. Did these children do something special to deserve these Valentines?
Honestly, I'd always thought of Valentine's celebrations at school as being much like another trick-or-treat or reason to have a fun party. But let's say it's not. Let's say these cards and little candies that the children pass out during school hours are awards and they should be earned. What, then, makes a child unworthy to receive one? Are they not pretty or handsome enough? Do they not dress well enough? Do they need to bathe more often? Are they not rich enough?
In all my school years it was always said by the teacher that all students should receive a Valentine from students who chose to bring them. It made some of my elementary years more bearable, because the students actually listened. I'm sure that in grades 3-5 that had that not been the rule, I'd have gone home feeling even more worthless than usual on that day. Why? Because I was bullied. Many of the kids didn't like me. I wasn't like them. I didn't go to church. I smelled like cigarettes. I dressed myself. I did my own hair (and not very well, I might add) and I lived in a trailer park. People called me "Smelly Nellie" and "trailer trash" among other things, they'd actually follow me around the school yard to do it.
Every morning I would wake up to my alarm clock, force myself to get ready for school and to walk to where I knew people were going to be mean to me. How did I handle it? I laughed. I acted like I didn't care and then I went home and cried my eyes out on the particularly bad days. But Valentine's Day was a good day. I was treated, miraculously enough, like anyone else. I got to take home my Valentines and show my mom and sister and feel like everyone else for a day.
What can be so terrible about what this teacher asked? None of these children earned any of those Valentines. It's just an excuse to have a little fun and celebrate. If every student in elementary doesn't get one, then none of them should. Valentines in school has nothing to do with accomplishment and everything to do with fun, and perhaps a little about teaching them about love and friendship.
Are people seriously advocating leaving children out of this? For what purpose? Is giving them a Valentine somehow going to leave them ill-equipped for the real world? I highly doubt it. But leaving them out feels a lot like bullying. For teachers to not make this rule in their classroom seems wrong to me. What is right about allowing a child to be left out of the passing of Valentines? How is that going to strengthen their character or teach them good lessons?
You may be surprised to learn that I don't believe in rewarding children for nothing. We don't go for the participation trophies here. We encourage our children to work hard and to do their best. If they win, fantastic! If they don't, hopefully they did their best and learned something and will do better next time. But we don't want them receiving what they didn't earn. We want them to be prepared for the work it takes to make it in the real world.
But Valentine's Day has nothing to do with this. And once these kids hit Junior High and High School, they get to choose whom receives their Valentines gifts and they understand the deeper meaning behind those gifts. In elementary they don't yet understand this, and they don't need to. They're children. I think there are already too many ways some children are ostracized. There's no need to provide one more way. If they want to do an extra special Valentine for their very good friends, by all means, let them do it, but don't encourage them to be mean and leave someone out because they don't like the way they dress, smell, talk, etc. This doesn't teach them anything valuable.
Just my two cents. Happy Valentine's Day! :)