Couple weeks ago I wrote about my homeschool group's annual Valentine party and why we were sitting it out. Well, I semi-caved on the deal; we went after all, and I'm glad I did.
First of all, we did not exchange valentines. But, the venue was one much desired by my children: Chuck E Cheese. This was the third time in their young lives they have been there. I hate it, but it's a fun place, once in a while. They hadn't seen their homeschool friends in a long time; we've been housebound, the pizza and token were cheap.
So I emailed the leader of the homeschool group and asked if we could just come. She readily agreed. We knew that in the chaos no one would really notice that my kids were not exchanging valentines.
Boy were we right.
When we arrived most of the 20-odd moms and kids were trickling in, armed with the valentines they'd prepared and the bags to collect in. The kids immediately ran off to play the games, leaving the moms holding the bags. (Hahaha.) Over half were people I'd never seen before. One woman commented that she knew only one other person there! (I managed to restrain myself from asking her why she had her kid do valentines for 30+ strangers.)
I did receive a few exclamations of surprise at my presence. Embarrassment that they did not have valentines for my kids. I tried to explain, without explaining exactly why, that we weren't really there in an official capacity and did not expect any valentines.
Then, the moms proceeded to fill the kids' bags with the valentines! The kids were no where in sight! No exchange was being done. The kids played, the moms walked around looking for names on bags and put valentines in.
As moms finished filling the bags, some wandered over to where I was hanging out. While publicly everyone was full of enthusiasm for the exchange, privately... well... More than once a mom told me that she had a hard time explaining to her kids why they were making valentines for people they didn't know. Every single one told me that when trying to explain, they related the custom of valentine exchange to school. Let's take a moment to remember that not one of these kids goes to school! Most have never been to school!
So in that context I felt comfortable explaining why we did not participate. At that point it didn't need much explanation.
These women are not dopes. They are thoughtful, educated women who are taking on full responsibility for the care and education of their children. They research learning styles and educational methods. They know the benefits and downsides to phonics and whole-language. They can tell you which Latin curriculum worked best for them and why they chose (or did not choose) to follow the classical education model. They are intentionally counter-cultural.
Except on Valentine's Day, I guess.