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Monday, February 14, 2011

School Bell: A Valentine's Day Apology

Each year as Valentine's Day approaches and I supervise my kiddos preparing valentines to share at school I cannot escape the memory of my Valentine's Day fiasco in fourth grade.  It was many years ago now, but I still remember it vividly. Little cards, kind of like the old Garbage Pail kid cards, were really popular. They were sarcastic, insult cards that were for some reason considered funny that year. I thought I was much too old for syrupy little cards like the one at left.  How could I send that to a boy I secretly had a crush on?  Sarcastic seemed safer somehow... making light of the whole valentine thing. 

So, I carefully wrote the names of my classmates on the envelope of each small card.  One for every classmate as I had been taught to do.  I took them to school and put them in the boxes on each child's desk. That night my parents got a call from a very unhappy set of parents whose daughter had come home in tears over my Valentines card to her.  It had read:    [front] "I'd climb the highest mountain..."     [back]  " get away from you!" "Happy Valentine's Day!"   It was no more insulting than any of the other cards, but unfortunately it happened to be the ONLY card the girl had received and her parents [and she] apparently were not aware of the "humor" of those popular sarcasm cards. They were not amused. No matter how I apologized, no matter how hard I tried to explain, things were never the same between Linda and me.

In googling this morning [half a century later!] I see that such insult, sarcastic, yes--maybe cruel, cards are still out there. The one above I would not find funny, even if it were intended to be.  The pirate ship one to the left I think might actually get a child in serious trouble in today's school society!  I know that I for one will never ever again send a card that could somehow be mistaken or misunderstood, much less one that is actually rude or frightening. 

That Valentine's Day back in 1958 taught me a valuable lesson about impressions and mistaken intentions. So, be aware, be cautious, and Linda Cayea ... from Mrs. Klotzbach's fourth grade ....  if you are out there.... I never intended hurt your feelings at all, much less so badly! I have never forgotten you. I am still sorry!!

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