Matt Knutson: What do you get 1-year-olds for Valentine’s?

Published 9:34 am Friday, February 17, 2017

Matt Knutson is a communications specialist in Rochester.

“Maybe we should give them applesauce,” I suggested to my wife as we prepared for our daughter’s first Valentine’s Day at day care. The teachers had suggested we bring something in to celebrate the holiday, and we were a bit stuck on what to do. Reflecting on my elementary school days, it was normal to bring in a valentine for each person in class with a piece of candy attached. Most of the kids in Gracelyn’s class aren’t even eating solid foods yet, so that wouldn’t work. Oftentimes the ones with teeth still aren’t allowed to have sugar, and most candies are choking hazards anyway. Thus, the applesauce suggestion was seeming pretty good in light of the more dangerous alternatives.

Without much further thought, the treat was acquired, and Sera wrote a little note on the lids of each container. We figured we successfully accomplished the task at hand and promptly forgot about it until the night before the holiday when Sera began questioning if we were doing this Valentine’s Day celebration correctly. Did we need the paper valentine’s from the store? Is the applesauce really OK? Was it weird that she just wrote on the lid?

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I concluded that we probably did need the paper valentine from the store, that applesauce might be a little odd, and that it was hilarious that she wrote on the lids. However, it was late at night, and we weren’t about to change anything now. When we picked Gracelyn up from day care the next day, it became clear just how hilarious our attempt at Valentine’s Day might appear to some of the other parents. We received teddy bears, gift bags and other treats all with a nicely adorned paper valentine, sometimes homemade! This was clearly an opportunity for parents to show off, and we were the ones who came in a comically last place. We didn’t even get the red applesauce that at least would have been more festive.

When did 1-year-olds start celebrating Valentine’s Day, anyway? This girl already gets all the love she needs from her mama and dada. We don’t need the other kids’ parents trying to buy her love with fancy treats and teddy bears. Gracelyn came home and kept hugging one of the bears as if it was the best gift she’d been given. Did she already forget about all of the elephant stuffed animals we’ve given her? Apparently our little one is only into the newest, fluffiest thing. Sera wants me to point out that Gracelyn also picked up the applesauce and held onto it for a weird amount of time, but I think this had more to do with it being nearly dinner time and less to do with the applesauce being the best gift in the Valentine’s Day bag. I’d also argue that my point was further made when I opened the applesauce, offered it to Gracelyn, and found myself eating it because she refused.

Maybe we didn’t knock this Valentine’s Day out of the park, but I think it’s OK to not be the best at everything. There will always be those parents who attend every PTA meeting and are actively working to position themselves and their families at the top. Then there are those parents who don’t seem to care too much about anything. Our family’s life is about finding the balance between the two. Our involvement in Gracelyn’s education is crucial to her future success, but our involvement in Valentine’s Day probably isn’t as important. That being said, next year we’re going to knock it out of the park. Does anyone know if 2-year-olds like bouquets of flowers?