Oh. My. God.
We made Valentines. There were only like 25, but it felt more like 5,000,000,000. Partly because after the first one, I was like, “I’m done.” But also because after the fifth one, my 8yo daughter was like, “I’m done.”
Every month my daughter’s school concentrates on a different virtue. Last month’s was Responsibility. This month’s? Perseverance.
We mother-fucking persevered over those god damn Valentines. I am here to tell you, we kicked their collective heart-covered asses. We even went the extra mile and made some for extended fam. We seriously showed perseverance a thing or two.
Here’s the thing.
I’m not overly artsy-craftsy. It’s a problem. But my daughter is extremely artistic, so for her sake, I try really hard to overcome. To… persevere. Because I don’t want her to be afraid of trying to make beauty. How can one be afraid of trying to make beauty? I’ll tell you how: Perfectionism.
FACT: Perfectionism is the enemy of Perseverance.
As a child, I had to have things lined up perfectly. My books were organized by height, until I was old enough to realize that organization via author’s last name was the better way to go. I didn’t play with dolls. I tidied my collections and kept them neat. I didn’t play in my room. I cleaned and rearranged. When my sister wanted to play Barbies, she used to get seriously pissed because I would take literally HOURS (no exaggeration here, people) to set up their house, create their character and story lines, and make sure every detail was in place. When these tasks were finally complete, my sister thought it would be play time. Alas, I was already done. That shit was fun. Game over, bitch.
So maybe I was a bit OCD as a child.
Who the fuck knows or cares? The only time it seriously impacted me was in art class. Not because I wasn’t good at it, or lacked for imagination. There was no way to tell whether or not these things were true. I spent so much time paying attention to detail, art class would end before I’d even gotten started. I don’t think I completed a single art project. Elementary school teachers just want kids to color in the fucking lines. “It ain’t gotta be perfect!” I can’t remember how many times I heard this phrase. But the problem was, for me, it DID have to be perfect. What was the point of even starting a project, if I wasn’t expected to do my best to make it come out “just right”?
Eventually I realized I was no good at art.
I have learned since then that this conclusion might not be true. I might actually have a slightly small amount of creativity brewing in the back of my skull. But I struggled with it so long, I’m afraid of it. What if I start a project and I can’t finish it properly? What if I can’t make it look the way it’s supposed to look? What if it turns out… UGLY? I’m scared to even try. Fuck that noise. Art can kiss my ass. Ya know? I’m OUT.
But for my daughter’s sake, I can’t just quit.
I have to find some perseverance up in here and make it GO. Particularly because my daughter is a perfectionist too. She is very much like me. Her report card says wonderful things about her reading and comprehension levels, about her abilities in other important subjects, about how much she excels scholastically. And then there’s always a small note indicating that she doesn’t work within the assigned time frame. She has shown improvement this year, but still. She likes to take her time at anything requiring her attention. She wants to get it right. She thinks it needs to be perfect.
So, those fucking Valentines.
Those fucking Valentines kicked my ass. I mean, we kicked THEIR collective asses, because we got them done. But the whole way through was a perpetual fight. Perseverance, yes, all the way, because we both wanted to stop. We didn’t do them all in one sitting, FYI. We broke up the project over the course of several days. We could easily have used the generic cards that come in the cheap-o boxes, like 99.9% of the kids. That’s what I would have done, especially now that you are required to make Valentines for every single person in your class, whether you’re friends or not. Which I think is utter bullshit.
Every time my daughter messed up or became unhappy with how a particular Valentine turned out, I told her to look at the list of who was left and tell me which person she liked the least. The messed up or ugly Valentines all went to the kids she isn’t friends with, like that one little boy who always cuts in line at the water fountain. Little asshole – he deserves an ugly, fucked up Valentine. Justice has been served.
Oh, shit. Now I’m going to hear from everyone how mean it is to have my daughter ON PURPOSE pick out the names of kids she doesn’t like. I also did the opposite, okay, assholes? When a Valentine turned out really well, I told her to pick out the kid she liked best. Furthermore? ALL THE VALENTINES WERE UGLY. So it’s not like anyone could tell whether or not they got a good one or a messed up one. Fact.
Handmade versus Generic
There has long been a war in my extended fam over this topic. Well, not really “Handmade” versus “Generic” so much as “Those copies of form letter people stick in their Christmas cards now updating us on how their year has been” versus “just a card”, you know? I’m a staunch ally of the update letter, while others detest them as generic. Which is funny because how is a personalized message with my background and history MORE generic than a fucking card you bought at the store that came in a box with 20 others just like it?
But whatever. This isn’t about me. This is about my daughter. She didn’t want to go with generic. She wanted to make Valentines. And I wanted to support her sweet spirit and perhaps bolster some confidence in her abilities. Also? I knew she would want to quit after five cards, so this would be a perfect opportunity to drive home the idea of perseverance.
So we made the cards. Over the course of several days, we made heart templates out of the cardboard cases housing all my Cokes.
ONE MORE SIDENOTE:
See how my Coke-drinking habit came in handy? Some might suggest that we could have used cereal boxes. HA! We don’t buy cereal in boxes, fool! Our cereal comes in bags. Suck it!
We used the heart templates to cut more hearts out of pretty scrapbook paper. I should have felt awful about “wasting” my expensive scrapbook paper on this tedious project, but I didn’t. My daughter was making shit with it, and I haven’t been scrapbooking for several months, so fuck it. It’s just paper. I’m never, ever going to get selfish and grabby with material objects. Have at it!
I had this idea in my head of how the Valentines would turn out.
The end result looked nothing like that picture. Partly because the picture was hazy at best, partly because I didn’t know WTF I was doing, and partly because any suggestions I offered were turned down in favor of my daughter’s ideas. And shit – this was her project, so I didn’t mind doing things her way.
Handmade Valentines – the final score:
She loves the way the Valentines turned out.
I think they look like shit. I will never, ever say that to her face, and if you tell her I said that, I will deny-deny-deny, and when the day is over, punch you in the wiener for calling me out.
We spent time together and enjoyed working on a project from start to finish.
We both would rather have been reading. Just sayin’.
We really learned all about perseverance.
Fuck all that. Next year we’re buying boxed Valentines, and perseverance can kiss my ass. Some projects were meant to be avoided.