The Twenty-Eighth Chart (Spurts)

February 17, 2012

By Ekta R. Garg

Enjoy these Spurts from the last couple of weeks, readers!

On Tuesday when I brought Three home from school, she chattered excitedly about her Valentine’s party and proudly showed me the white paper bag that she’d decorated for the occasion.  I felt glad that this component of school hasn’t changed from the time I was young; I remember making Valentine’s bags year after year and feeling excited as the teachers would hang my bag on the chalk tray next to that of my classmates’ bags.  We’d exchange smiles as we anticipated the day of our party when we could exchange the small store-bought cards made of stiff paper on which we’d write one another’s names.

When I was young we would exchange the cards and small pieces of candy (one piece per Valentine.)  I remember going through this ritual year after year, so when I unpacked Three’s school bag on Tuesday I fully expected a bevy of cards with a variety of cartoon and Disney characters.  I saw the cards and much, much more.

Almost all of the cards had a piece of candy attached to them, which I found a little excessive but not unusual.  But a couple of people had decided to go the less sugary route and attached pencils instead.  Other treats included stickers and Silly Bandz.  One child had handed out this really interesting packaging of candy that looked like M&Ms placed in a tall stack, creating a tube of the candy.  At the top of the “tube” the child’s parents had attached an elaborate construction paper flower with the child’s name on it.  But my personal favorite of the more elaborate Valentines came like this: one classmate’s parents had gone out of their way to have professional photos taken of their child, attached the photo to a small white paper bag, and then dropped three or four items in the bag.  This was the “Valentine.”  And each child of the 25 in the class got a photo.

What happened to just using the small cards and maybe a single row of Smarties?  Since when did all the other stuff get thrown in?  Do we really need to waste all this money on these elaborate symbols of this holiday?  Let’s face it, Valentine’s Day is a one-day deal.  You can extend Thanksgiving throughout the month of November because many of the symbols fit that time of year—cornucopias, fall leaves, pumpkins/squash, even the turkeys.  And the Christmas holidays can exhibit snowflakes, mugs of hot chocolate, evergreens dusted in white, and holly leaves and red berries for all of December.

But, really, what about February says “love” other than the expectation of that day in the middle of the month?  I love February; my birthday is on the 1st, as is the anniversary of the launch of The Write Edge.  And I’m a hopeless romantic, so I think adults should spend a little bit of money on one another; that’s okay.  But in preschool?  I don’t think fancy Valentines are warranted.  Especially professional photos that we’re certainly not going to save.  Heck, I didn’t even save any of the little cards from when I was a kid.

I think we should do a partial boycott of extra-fancy Valentine cards.  Anyone in?

***

On Wednesday as I drove Five straight from school to dance class, she stared out the window in thought.

“Mama, what state do you think I should rule?”

“What state should you rule?  What do you mean?”

“You know.  What state should I rule?”

At least I can’t say Five harbors low expectations for herself.

“Well, I don’t know.”

Ever since Five has begun studying geography at school, she’s intrigued with the fact that she was born in Oregon, lived in Texas for three years of her life, and now lives in Salt Lake City.  She asks questions about various locations, and she and her dad have a special game they play when they have a few extra minutes where they pull out the atlas and try to stump each other by looking for hard-to-find cities, states, and countries.

I didn’t realize, though, that her interest in geography extended to politics and, more specifically, a dictatorship.

I also didn’t know how to answer her question.  I’ve never pondered it myself, actually.  What state would I like to rule?  Hmm…

“Well, the head of a state is called a governor, and the head of a city is called a mayor,” I answered obliquely.

“The head of a city is a mayor…,” she repeated, trailing off.

At that moment we pulled into the parking lot of the dance studio.

“Actually, I don’t want to rule a state or a city,” she concluded with a smile.  “I just want to be a dancer when I grow up.”

“Okay.  That’s fine.  You can be whatever you want,” I responded.

So.  Another dictatorship averted.  Although I think hers would have been a benevolent rule.

***

Five made a deep confession to me on the way home from school yesterday.

For weeks she and Three have gone back and forth like a tennis ball on the court about what TV shows they like.  Because we monitor their television viewing pretty closely, they only have a handful of shows to claim.  They’re close enough in age that they like almost the same things; we have yet to come to a point where one departs drastically from the sister status quo.

Until a few months ago when Three discovered Dora.

Five watched the first few DVDs with her little sister that their grandfather brought home from his excursions to the library.  But then after those first three or four DVDs, Five caught the vibe from the grownups in the house and began stating—quite loudly—that she didn’t like Dora.  She liked any other show she could think of except Dora.

And then yesterday as we drove home and after some quiet musings she said, “Well, Mama, maybe I like Dora a little bit.”

I couldn’t help smiling a little bit.

“I don’t like it a lot.  Just a little bit.”

“Okay.”

“I like her friends the best.  But I don’t like how big Dora’s head is.”

I chuckled.  Dora’s head size has been a frequent topic of amusement whenever Three declares her undying devotion to the spunky little explorer.

Five laughed too, and she seemed relieved by the confession.

I hope she feels just as comfortable coming to me with her confessions when she’s 15.  Maybe she’ll learn to accept Dora’s head size then.

***

Heard from the back seat of the car on the way to school one morning:

“Hey, [Three,] look under there.”

“Under where?”

“Underwear!  Get it?” Five declared as she and Three engaged in a fit of giggles.

Then Five proceeded to repeat the joke to me, as though I hadn’t heard it the first time.  So I obliged her and Three by extending the joke and teasing them about showing underwear on the way to school.

I knew that graduate degree from Northwestern would be good for something.

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