By Sue Murphy
Room Mother Alert: Go with sprinkles.
I bought a bag of candy hearts to send to my grandchildren for Valentine’s Day, the traditional pastel ones that come with edible messages stamped all askew on the front. I was divvying them up into plastic containers so I could rush them off to the post office, when I noticed that one of the hearts said, “Hot Mama.” Not exactly the message I wanted to send, so I set that one aside in the “Grandma will eat later” pile and went on to check the rest of the hearts.
“Love Is Sweet”? Yes, it is. “My Star”? You betcha. My grandson was asked to lead the Pledge of Allegiance at the Grandparents’ Day breakfast. (Color me proud.) “You’re The One”? Well, one of four equally loved grandchildren, but sure. “Call Me Anytime”? Yes, my darlings, day or night.
“Sorry” is a good word to practice, just not the message I needed to send that day. “For You My Love”? A bit Cassanova, but harmless. “Hold Me Tight”? Only if you’re talking about hugs for Grandma at this point, but OK.
“Come Near,” “Oh Baby, Baby,” and “Love Me Tender” went in the “Hot Mama” reject pile. In this world, there’s love and then there’s “Hubba Hubba,” and Grandma is definitely not going there.
This candy censoring might seem excessive, but when you are just starting to read, every word counts. Right now, some children are hunched over the kitchen table randomly scribbling their names across 32 Valentines so they can go play Mario Cart. Others, however, are pouring through their carefully chosen packs of Valentines to make sure they give just the right card to every child in their class. “I Go Ape For You” could go to someone whose hilarity garners them more time-outs than time in class. The boy who brought his schnauzer for Show-and-Tell might like “Doggone It, I Like You,” but he might think it means you want to sit next to him on the bus. “I Wuf You” is dangerously close to the actual “L” word and should only be given to your mom or your teacher if you really, really like her and you know she wouldn’t laugh at you no matter what.
Likewise, on the receiving end of things, some kids will hurriedly tear through their Valentine boxes, saving only the pencils and ring pops, but others will carefully read each card trying to read between the printed lines. None of the cards will be blatantly bad. No one would send a child to school with a bunch of cards that say, “You’re a Loser.” Or at least I hope not. Still, deep-thinker children will ponder whether “You’re A Peach,” means that someone really likes you, or does that honor go to the person who got “We Make a Good Pear”? That hurriedly scribbled “You’re On The Right Track” Valentine could be taken to mean that our Mario Cart buddy thinks someone is AOK or close, but not in the inner circle. Having two granddaughters, I can tell you that if your friend gives you an Elsa card from her Frozen Valentine pack, you’re in. If it’s Anna, you’re second tier. Even though Anna is the real heroine in the story, she doesn’t have the big song or the sparkly dress. Sad, but true.
So, Room Mothers, you’ll be walking into an emotional minefield. A child who has just been hit with an Anna card cannot handle a cupcake topped with a candy heart that says “Sorry.” Go with sprinkles. They’ll Wuf it.