Outrage of the Week: Grammar School Cancels Val Day for “Good of the Students”

Hi Readers — Our darling children, who, we’re told, can’t handle recess in the cold (see this), or waiting outside the high school to be picked up (see this), or babysitting, even at age 14 (see this), and who can’t possibly handle sleepovers (see this) or bugs ( see this) or bible stories (see this), are now being told they can’t handle Valentine’s Day, either.

A Maryland grammar school sent a letter to parents explaining its philosophy, which was reported in the local Frederick News Post:

Romance between students has no place in the elementary school classroom, [Principal Stephanie] Brown said, and the obsession of boy-girl relationships on Valentine’s Day was inappropriate for the school setting.

Another issue caused by the holiday was the exchange of cards, some of which had candies or other treats attached. Brown said she and her staff didn’t want to take the chance of causing problems for students with  food allergies.

So now kids can’t handle friendship, love or disappointment — in other words, human relationships — and the kids with allergies can’t handle not eating the treat handed to them, and of course the school can’t handle a darn thing ever happening to the kids at all. And there you have it: A nice little Valentine to abject paralysis.  — Lenore

Danger! Life ahead!

90 Responses

  1. Eek! Treats! Friendships! The children must be protected.

    Considering the usual requirement in elementary school that valentines must be given to all classmates, I don’t consider it to be a big boy-girl relationship holiday for most of the elementary years. My kids’ classes have always just had the kids sign their cards and not put their classmates’ names on the cards so that they’d be fast to hand out. Keeps them all involved, and makes it harder to give a special friend something extra in class. Not like you can’t give a friend an extra before or after school, as my daughter did (not a boy friend, so shouldn’t even be horrifying to this principal).

  2. My daughter isn’t allowed to give out candy because of food allergies, either. But who ever heard of a lollipop allergy? (Peanuts, yes–so just don’t give out Snickers bars.) Giving and getting cards is fun, there’s no “romance” involved. The school informs parents that every child in class must receive a card so that no one feels left out. I know some parents approve of this for “self-esteem” purposes, but I think it’s another silly rule. We gave cards to our friends when we were kids and our friends gave us cards. I don’t remember ever being disappointed if so-and-so didn’t give me a card.

  3. @Marie – but then the whole drama of same sex couples etc will strike the fear of lawsuits into the heart of the principal😛

    Crazy stuff!

  4. Eh.. I agree their logic is ridiculous.. So how about this – the school year is too short to take away valuable class time to celebrate a fake holiday.

  5. I’m proud to say our class (I’m the aide) had their Valentine’s party. One boy chose not to participate due to religious beliefs. One boy checked his candy to be sure there were no peanuts. Parents can teach their children to make appropriate choices, without being martinets about it.

  6. I was wondering if allergies would ever make their way into your commentaries. They maybe have before, I’ve only been reading for a little while. I don’t agree with canceling a valentine party for the silly reason of romantic relationships in elementary school. I mean to say that I don’t know that we need to worry about that. As students get older there might be more cause for concern about insinuations or boy/girl teasing. But my 5th grader didn’t have a party or any parties this year. They just do things like go ice skating or bowling instead. I do understand a bit more about trying to limit the amount of candy ESPECIALLY if there are food allergies involved. I have a child with a peanut allergy. He has grown up knowing that he doesn’t get to automatically have what’s passed out. He’s dealt with it and handled it just fine. I don’t want to shelter him from every disappointment his allergy brings him. He can’t live in a bubble. But when you have a classroom that has multiple allergic kids, sometimes it’s easier, more manageable, and yes, safer, to pass out valentines minus the treat. There are ways to party without food. For classes without allergies, then I say go for it.

  7. How interesting.

    Leaving aside the fact that we don’t really do Valentine’s Day at home (we’re Jewish), my kids have it at school. I find it a pain as my kids are too young to drive and I am therefore left to get all the cards. And it is a LOT of cards because one must be given to each classmate. So that no one should feel left out, God-forbid.

    I hated that, as a kid. Knowing that most of the valentine cards I received were simply because the other kids had to give them to me. (I wasn’t the popular type.) Plus, I resented having to give a valentine card to the kids who teased me.

  8. I think that the excuse that the school year being too short to “waste” on things like Valentine’s day is not very valid, is not good for kids, and makes you a scrooge. Learning in the context of the seasons and holidays is exciting and memorable. You can’t be completely immune to the rest of society.

    I gave a nutrition lesson on Valentine’s day about calcium – we made fruit and dairy smoothies and talked about building our bones. Then we talked about sweets and how they were good only for “S” days – Saturday, Sunday, or Special occasions.

    Though at this particular school no candy that children brought could be consumed at school. The candy could be given out, but must first be taken home and shown to parents to approve. %P

  9. On Monday my grade one son made a Valentine’s Day card as part of his classwork. Each kid made one, but they didn’t give them out for reasons that will become apparent.

    My son wrote his to his best friend:
    “Dear J., Happy Valentine’s Day. I love you. From Isaac.”

    His best friend made one for his dead dog.

    Where’s the harm?

  10. while I agree the ban on exchanging cards is excessive, the ban on candy i would support simply because they bring home *so* much of it, and i don’t really allow such things in my house because (a) it’s unhealthy and (b) their dad & i are trying to shed a few pounds and the temptations around, don’t help any.

    @Frume Sarah … I hear ya. I hated giving cards to the mean kids at my school, too. Now I consider it good training for all the distasteful things we have to swallow as adults to make a living.

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  12. I hated Valentine’s day at school. It was always a contest to see who got the most Valentines. I was forced to give every single kid in my class a Valentine by my mother and I would be lucky if I got 1/4 of what I gave out back. In junior high, someone thought it would be a fun joke if they sent me a flower. When I found out that it was sent as a joke, it destroyed the gift.

    However, having to give one to everyone in my class was one of the few things I agree was a good idea that my mother taught me. She forced me to do that and so I do the same, making sure I have a class list the week or so before from the teacher. That way, no one was missed and I knew that every kid got at least one.

    This school also had “candygrams” and each of my kids have someone special to give one to. So I made sure they the money to each buy at least one.

    If you cancel Valentine’s Day, you might as well cancel St. Patty’s Day and other special days. After all, the kids are just there to learn rote, not have any fun.😛

  13. What a crock! Oh well if it makes the parents happy!?

  14. I am currently deployed to Afghanistan on my third tour, and I am part of the new female engagment teams. These teams consist of medical, security and intelligence specialist. We go directly into villages, unaccompanied by male troops, and meet face to face with the women and children of the villages. We provide medical care, work with the women to build skills so that they can help support their families and listen to the concerns of the women and children and try to help. I can promise you, that in the grand scheme of things, bugs, babysitting, and the cold are such silly things to focus on as a society. In my three deployments, here are a few of the children that I have had the honor of meeting and the priviledge of helping: 8 year old Avizeh, who lost her leg last year because of a Soviet era mine. She walks to school 2 miles on crutches every day, because she fears that when we are no longer in the country, she will be denied an education, like her mother was. 12 year old Dehqan, who is the sole caretaker of his 5 year old brother and 3 year old sister. He lost both parents to colera, and he works 12 hours a day caring for the goats and crops with only the 5 year old for help. And finally 16 year old Belahrah, who lost her sight at age 4 because of a infection that would have been cured with a simple penicillian shot, which she didn’t receive because the male doctor refused to treat her because the Taliban demanded that all women must be treated by female doctors. But, 12 years ago, women weren’t allowed to attend school, let alone become doctors. These are the things that should worry parents, not the petty things we have focused on in the states. We don’t have to worry about our child losing a limb to a mine left behind 25 years ago, or going blind simply because the most basic of medical care is denied simply on the basis of gender. When you have a mother kissing your hand over and over and crying with gratitude because you showed up in her village with a simple supply of DTP vaccines, you realize the other worries are just silly. And they would laugh at our free range ideas, because here, all the children are free range!

  15. Love is a dangerous thing, now.
    Yow! Scary!!

    It pops out of a Harlequin Romance complete with Dad’s car keys and a prom dress, apparently.

    I dunno….
    I was a romantic kid. I turned out all right. I learned how to write love songs. A little schmaltz is good once in awhile…mixes well with beer and pretzels, aids digestion, induces good dreams, and is even known to walk the dog on rainy days, mow the lawn on sunny days, and brighten the laundry. (can’t quite get the hang of washing the car, though. dang!)

    In an unrelated article, which I will comment on here, as it’s on my mind – one in which 4 family generations were compared, relating to childhood freedoms…what really grabbed my eye was this observation: the current generation has material affluence undreamed of in the great-grandparents’ time.
    But which generation do you think had the best actual quality of life? That’s not a trick question. The answer is painfully obvious.

    Yeah.
    Let’s protect the kiddies from the reality of their own emotions. Makes sense, sure.

  16. Awesome! I’m not a fan of V-day, but seriously, I think whoever made this decision needs a psychological evaluation. Were some people sent to earth just to extinguish everyone else’s fun?

    I can understand not wanting to let vey young kids exchange stuff they might be allergic/sensitive to or might handle inappropriately during class. The solution: put them aside and send them home after class. That’s what my kids’ preschool does. Parents can then police it if they want to.

  17. Oh, and while elementary school romance may scare the crap out of me, I really don’t think valentine cards are the root of it.

  18. My son is in first grade. One day last week his homework for the night was to make his valentines! They did ask that the children make one for each child in the class. The teacher used it as a time to have the kids practice their writing and later their reading as they each walked around the room and put their valentines into the right persons box. Several kids brought candy to give with their valentines, I was too cheap for this. The entire school is peanut free (don’t get me started on that, very touchy subject, really angers me) so there was no worry about allergies. All parents know the school is peanut free and we are to send nothing with peanuts ever or it will be thrown away.

  19. @Kristi: While I feel you are correct in identifying the worries here as “silly,” they’re more of a symptom than the full-on problem. When we begin to look at the whole picture, we’re allowing bit by bit, the freedoms you are overseas fighting for to be taken from us and our children without question and all in the name of safety – something that you, given where you are stationed, know is just about the last thing we need to worry about.

    I feel always for the many kids all over the world who are living in constant fear, pain, and hunger. We’re incredibly lucky to live where we do, but with all of this luck, you’d think we’d be smart enough not to turn it into fear and make it seem like we’re living in dire straits. For that, we go beyond simply “silly” and become absolutely moronic.

  20. The little girl I watch had a Book Exchange instead of handing out cards to each kid, they each came home on Friday with the name of a classmate and that is who they gave their book too. She is in Kindergarten,.

  21. Jeezus, what next? Let’s all take a moment and think about how we felt when we were younger. V-Day was SO much fun because of the awesome heart-shaped candies we gave to one another and cute little cards. LOVED it! Why deprive our kids of all things good?

  22. I must also mention that the reason our kids have food allergies these days is because we are too clean. So yes, this has everything to do with “free range” kids. Get the kids out into the dirt fields, encourage them to play with animals, eat dirt, be outdoors. I can guarantee you this would reduce all these ridiculous food allergies

  23. @Kristi,

    We are righteously rebuked once again. Our priorities seem to dwell in the strange land of drawing room melodrama, and thus we lose ourselves…
    The children you describe – are living examples, walking results of true folly.
    Children cannot be loved enough…some, not at all.
    In lands where even babies gaze with eyes of wisdom, what is it we can learn from them?
    First, we have to earn a little humility.

  24. My team canceled the 4th grade party – reasons
    1. Behavior problems

    2. We had Winter Break, MLK, 2 days missed due to nutcase weather (we had 2 1/2 days and 1 day full day), we have a 1/2 day Friday for conferences, and Monday off.

    3. 2 Weeks from today we have huge state test.

    4. Tomorrow during specials students who have reach certain goals have a soc hop (end of the day)

    We get 2 “party with food days” by law. So if behavior improves we will have the party in April – when we know we will need a big blow of stress event.

    Oh and we let the students have 1/2 hour to exchange cards. I didn’t have to tell the kids they needed 1 card per student, to them that is just fair. They also know 4 of their grademates have deathly allergies to peanuts (Plus their teacher). So they stuck with hard candy or Hershey’s bars. (They asked me which chocolate was safe – most other brands have may contain traces warnings.) The cutest was a boy who didn’t have money for store bought. He made these elaborate handmade cards with moving parts (like pop up books)

  25. It may be crude, but the moment she heard the principal’s comments, my bride said, “Oh! She hasn’t been getting laid!” She might be on to something!

  26. My daughter is allergic to red dye but she came home and sold me all her red dye candy and earned $5 that she gets to go buy something else with. She didn’t mind one bit!

  27. I am the father of a child that I am quite sure is gay. He is 11 but shows behaviors that indicate he may have attraction solely to other boys. My concern is this type of emotionally incarcerate policy will inhibit his ability to explore who he really is during the most important developmental years of his sexual psyche. Gay or strait i believe that the innocent indulgence of a school crush, a stolen moment even the first kiss for all children frankly happens at school for most of us. If my child is no longer allowed to explore his burgeoning puberty in a school, then where? School and romance belong together, my wife agrees.
    Sincerely Villy Fulua & Mary Kay.

  28. @JP

    Believe me, I have been humbled by them…mostly by the mothers…humbled and unworthy because I know that if the roles were reversed, I wouldn’t last a week. Yes, I’m strong enough to stand up a the PTA meetings and argue against the latest “shall not” that is going to be foisted upon my children all in the name of safety, but I know that no matter how independant and strong that I think I am, I’ll never measure up to the women I met at the Shura today.

  29. But who ever heard of a lollipop allergy?

    Nobody… but then, nobody’s ever heard of a Reese’s allergy either!

    What’s in your lollipops? Do you know? I… I don’t know, so I’m going to google this. Hold on.

    The first option google gave me was CHARMS lollipops, so I’m going to be lazy and assume they’re typical.

    “Charms Lollipops Ingredients Include: sugar, corn syrup, citric acid, malic acid, artificial flavors & colors, (FD & C Red 40, FD & C Blue 1), turmeric coloring, & titanium dioxide.”

    Right there, I can see two potential problems – there’s corn allergies (yes, they do exist!) and there’s allergies and intolerances to food colorings. (And it’s worth noting that many food colorings, including red 40, are banned or require warning labels in other parts of the world due to known health risks.)

    As far as the candy goes, though, I don’t object to one or two lollipops or pieces of chocolate. When my niece comes home with a large-sized ziploc baggie full of candy the day after Valentine’s day, and that’s in addition to the goody bag she got yesterday before she got sent home for pinkeye (which turned out to be a false alarm), the goody bag which had enough candy to keep both girls hyped up for three days – that’s not something I want to see every month. And it IS every month, and this is AFTER the school cut down on bringing food in!

  30. Well, to play devil’s advocate here, I think the whole school-Valentine’s Day festivities are an empty farce that serves mostly the greeting card/candy industry. Little kids giving each other Valentines’ cards is pretty meaningless, particularly since virtually every school I know of requires that if you give cards, you give one to every kid. My three year old’s preschool had the kids exchange valentines, and not only were the non-hand-crafted cards from almost all the kids really just done by their parents, thus not even involving the kids, half of them came with candy that just caused all sorts of “no you can’t have it” problems with my kid, who gets seriously unregulated on just a bit of sugar. My 7 yo’s school is a bit better, in that the valentines are all hand-crafted and they use the occasion to have the kids focus on one particular thing they like about each of the other kids in class. That said, there’s still a forced air about the whole exercise.

    So while this school may be a bit ham-fisted about it, and.or searching for rationalizations not to have a VD celebration, I’m not entirely opposed to schools making these kinds of decisions. I’m sure they’re a huge relief to a lot of parents.

    And you know what? In keeping with the Free Range/independent kids philosophy here, I’m not so sure this isn’t a good thing. The kids who really feel strongly about it or who have a crush will no doubt find some way of sneaking a sentiment to their beloved, anyway. DIY and a little bit of defying of authority, that’s the way things should be.

  31. I got “married” at least 12 times in elementary. Believe me, stopping the exchange of valentines isn’t going to stop any “relationships.”

  32. I don’t get it. Valentine’s day is about romantic love, yes? These children are ages 6-12ish, yes?

    Why is Valentine’s Day even celebrated in elementary schools in the first place? Seems unnecessary and inappropriate* to me.

    *Inappropriate in the same way that giving a snake a bicycle is inappropriate, not “it’s too big for them to handle” inappropriate.

  33. Didn’t know where to send this.
    This poor sleep deprived mama left her baby at home. Just love the Fire Brigade’s spokesperson’s level headed response. http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/8211948/sleep-deprived-mum-forgets-her-baby

  34. This just goes to further prove my point of a post i made in reference to a local news story earlier today:
    OK, I’m sorry, don’t take me wrong here, bullying is absolutely wrong, but really? We as a people have gotten to the point that we can no longer teach our children coping skills? Rather we have to teach them to be victims, and rather than teach children not to bully, we “deal” with the problem by making schoolyard bullying a crime? What’s next, childhood is a criminal activity? Oh wait…. they’e already doing that.
    Yes in many states, school yard bullying is now a prosecutable crime. Another reason if I ever have children of my own, they will be home schooled.

  35. When will enough be enough? When are we actually going o turn around to these mornons and say “NO!” and remind them who it is they actually work for?

    Here in the UK we have state nannying taken to the extreme but it seems, from reading this blog, that the US is worse. How did that happen? Whatever happened to the land of the free and home of the brave?

    I did consider emigrating to the States a couple of years ago. Don’t think I’ll bother now.

  36. If you keep kids in a bubble outside the ‘real world’ (which is what a school is incidentally), what happens when they actually have to live in that world?

  37. ah, that’s sucky, Don’t celebrate life, kids!

    My school had a notice board for anonymously posting dodgy poems and sweetnesses to those we were fancying, So Much fun!

    What happened to boosting morale?

  38. enyawface – I am sorry, but I disagree with your post. Schoolyard bullying is already a crime when it rises to the level of assault. I don’t believe that any new laws are necessary, just enforcement of existing law would take care of the problem. It does give me some satisfaction that many of my former bullies are now either in jail or living in a trashy trailer park while I live in a nice condo and drive a Cadillac.

    Henry Crun – I kind of thought that the last election would have sent a message to our government that enough was enough, but they don’t seem to have gotten it. There are still too many statists in our government and a lot of them won reelection (Pelosi, McCain, Reid, etc.). Until more liberty-minded candidates start winning elections, I do not hold out much ‘hope” for any “change”.

    In general, some of my happiest memories of childhood are of my elementary school romances. It was so simple and fun back then.

  39. Traditionally, Valentine’s Day is not a big deal over here (Spain). However, as we can’t help being permeated by other cultures, especially regarding any excuse to throw a party or making presents, my kids are aware that something pink and heart-shaped was due on Monday. So my 4 yo boy, who’s “madly in love” with a tiny girl in his class, got his 6 yo sister to write a valentine on a pink slip of paper he found somewhere. Cute.
    @Kitambi: I would advise not to fuss over all the gay thing. Part of all the sexual maturing we go through is a phase of natural fascination for our own sex. It normally adds up to watching our fellows (in the changing room mostly, but also any other behaviour that suggests puberty), and comparing ourselves with them. You know, all the “his armpits are growing hairy… what about mine?” or “would I look more of a woman if I dressed or put on some make-up like she does?”. Occasionally that is mistaken as sexual attraction, but really, at 11yo it seems too soon (IMHO) to tag it as homosexuality.

  40. Once again, our administrators looking for conflict and drama and sexual situations WHERE NONE EXIST!! Why is all this energy poured into worrying about abstractions? Who but the school is even thinking about the romantic implications of Valentine’s Day?! It is a day about love, yes, but could you get your heads out of the gutter? Honestly…take a look at what the kids exchange. 90% is sugar. That’s the big draw. Please don’t play the allergy card. Declare it a no-food holiday, I’m all for that anyway. Make it about the message, not the sugar.

    As for the message, give the kids a little damn credit. Try sticking your heads into classrooms and looking at actual Valentines and actual social dynamics…

    My daughter is in 5th grade and the Valentines she made for the boys were totally neutral. There were no hearts, nary the “L” sound made or implied, in fact they just said “Smile.” It was To: X, From: [her name]. To and From. And this is what she did, on her own.

    The Valentines she made for her girlfriends were Dear and Love and I love you and BFF and XOXO. Now is THAT the issue everyone is so horrified about? Sentiments of affection between two people of the same sex?

    In elementary school, romantic love is “ick” and you don’t need to do a thing about it. Don’t schools have BIGGER problems to worry about? I’m sorry for the rant and random caps but I am just boiling mad over this piece of nonsense. GAAAHHHH!!!!

  41. I wish to retract “Please don’t play the allergy card” out of my comment. It was not well-thought-out considering the different kinds of candy that kids bring it. I take that back and still wish they would make it a no-food celebration because the point of ValDay is sending messages.

  42. It doesn’t surprise me that some schools didn’t acknowledge Valentine’s Day. What worries me is the larger issue – what on earth are these kids going to do when they’re out there in the real world? Is it just going to seem like some bizarre “Planet of the Apes” kind of place to them?

    My son’s Kindergarten class celebrated Valentine’s Day without incident. Imagine that. And my son’s allergic to peanuts (gasp!). Someone gave him a little Snickers bar, but he is smart enough to ask if anything has peanuts in it before he eats it. He saved it for me, the sweetie. What a concept. Teach kids to look out for themselves.

  43. i blame george bush.

  44. Kristi – thank you for your perspective, and for your service to your country.

    Because we do not face such hardships now does not mean we – or our children – might not one day.

    It seems those who have done the least to protect and defend the Constitution are always the first in line to throw it away.

  45. I’m not a big fan of promoting “boy girl” relationships, even in a “fun” way, at the elementary school level, but the answer is not to ban Valentine’s Day, it’s to de-emphasize that aspect of it, and emphasize that the proper expression of Valentine’s Day for young kids is friendship (same sex and opposite sex.)

    Once again, we have the rush to ban something because there’s a single aspect of it that could be handled differently. Ugh.

    And also, if a single school doesn’t want to do Valentine’s Day for whatever reason, I don’t think they should be shouted down for it. But in turn, they don’t have a make a big issue over it — just don’t do it, carry on in the normal way that do. Not everything you opt not to do needs to be “banned” for some principled reason. While these things are fun for kids and mostly harmless, I really don’t see why people feel that schools MUST uphold certain practices or holidays that don’t directly contribute to education.

  46. @ Kristi – You are correct; in a war zone, our worries may be silly. However, in my child/family’s life they are not silly. They impact the enjoyment of my child’s childhood and my enjoyment of parenting every day. To worry about her leg being blown off by a bomb or not having access to medical care or having to herd sheep at 5 would be extremely silly worries for me. To worry about things that do actually impact her life is not. Places in the world need vast improvement but that doesn’t mean that I need to stop trying to make the small part of the world I live in the best that it can be until all war, disease and poverty worldwide is ended.

    I’m not saying that there aren’t people in the world with bigger worries. Afganistan is just one place of many in the world where families face much bigger issues than mine will hopefully ever face. That doesn’t mean that those of us with a more stable life must simply say “Valentine’s, walking home from school, staying home alone, prohibiting tag in school, etc. is not a big deal in the grand scheme of war and disease in other parts of the world so we should just roll over and accept that our children are being helicoptered out of the childhood we want for them.”

    Your theory could be extrapolated to any single worry in the western world because none are going to amount to the seriousness of issues in Afganistan. Husband cheating on you? Who cares, your child’s leg wasn’t just blown off by a bomb. Lost your job? No big deal since you don’t have colera. Daughter failing every class? That’s okay because she’s had all her shots. Spouse addicted to prescription pills? Cool, just indicates that we have plenty of high quality medical care.

    So, yes, in the grand scheme of the world, our worries are silly. In OUR world that we live, work and play in they are not. I’m simply not inclined to put my child’s happiness, growth and development on hold until all the world’s problems are solved because that’s never going to happen.

  47. I don’t get it. Valentine’s day is about romantic love, yes? These children are ages 6-12ish, yes?

    In the US, it’s not just about romantic love. It’s common where I am for people to give chocolates to their kids or parents, and cards to their platonic friends – or even just acquaintances! We stopped at Dunkin Donuts on V-day because the girls had to be pulled from school early due to pinkeye (as I said above) and missed their parties, and while we were there a man came in, ordered his “usual”, and passed out a rose to each of the people behind the counter, two women and a man. I highly doubt he’s in a relationship with all three of them. Possible, but unlikely🙂

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  49. pentamom – what I would question about the schools ban is, how many parents actually knew about it in advance. Many times the administrations just announce these things as if everybody will automatically agree with it. Debate? Discussion? Compromises? Usually not.

    Kristi – Bless you!

  50. No, Tuppence, but my nieces *do* have a bad reaction, mood swings and all, to food coloring.

  51. @Tera…you asked, whoever heard of a lollipop allergy? I have. My daughter is allergic. They put high fructose corn syrup in most of them and she is deathly allergic to anything with corn of any type in it. The “healthy organic” kind often have carrot juice or beet juice in them. The same daughter is allergic to carrots and I have another allergic to beets. Anything that contains caramel color has milk in it – it’s made from milk. I have another child allergic to milk. In fact, between all 7 of my kids there are a total of 57 food allergies to a number of things that fall under your umbrella of “Whoever heard of a ____ allergy?”

    It saddens and frightens me that there is so little understanding of food allergies. When people talk of food allergies they only talk about the top 8 allergens – those that the largest numbers of people are allergic to…eggs, fish, shellfish, milk, wheat, soy, treenuts and milk. Anything can be a potential allergen to someone. My son has an anaphylatic reaction to pepper – something we all take for granted and goes on most peoples food routinely. This means he is also allergic to green, yellow and red peppers, jalapenos and paprika. Another of my kids is so allergic to chicken that she throws up if we even cook it because it releases proteins into the air. You don’t have to eat something to be exposed. The food proteins just have to be in the air.

    We homeschool and honestly, with the health issues my kids have I am glad that we do. While my kids don’t live in a bubble and never have, I do not feel safe sending them to school where kids aren’t allowed to have their asthma inhalers on them or their epi-pens. In the time it takes to get something like that from the teachers desk or from the nurses office a child could be dead.

    Personally, I detest how everything has to revolve around food of some sort. While it sucks that the MD school in question canceled Valentines Day, the safety of those with food allergies is very important. On that note though, a compromise could have been made that there wasn’t to be any giving of candy due to food allergies. I think the food allergy point with the school was a cover.

  52. “who ever heard of a lollipop allergy” -truly spoken like someone with ZERO experience with food allergies. With severe food allergies it isn’t only whats IN the food it is also what’s ON the food.

    We celebrate Valentine’s at my kids school and we have allergy issues so we deal -but it as a huge pain as for e.g. dum dums packaged in a dum dums facility are safe from cross contamination. Dum dums packaged in a mixed bag or in the CVS bag are not. No way to tell looking at the single lollipop.

    As for me I HATE Valentie’s day -I grew up in a country where it was treated pretty much the same as St. Patrick’s day -you remembered it, wished people a happy day and moved on. Since moving here I’m not a big fan of how adults celebrate it and how the young are sort of dragged along with it. I guess that’s a cultural adjustment I have to make.

  53. My son has an anaphylatic reaction to pepper – something we all take for granted and goes on most peoples food routinely. This means he is also allergic to green, yellow and red peppers, jalapenos and paprika

    Not doubting you, but I thought pepper (the spice) and peppers (the food) were unrelated…?

    With severe food allergies it isn’t only whats IN the food it is also what’s ON the food.

    I forgot about that, thank you.

  54. it’s funny to me- they’ll celebrate blind obedience, military actions, and pump the kids full of DARE propaganda, but they bury Valentine’s Day?!! Teaching kids how to love and be loved is not the school’s job, but this is a great opportunity to celebrate love and friendship.
    this is what happens when bureaucrats are put in charge of anything- they need to be locked in a room, figuring tax returns or ordering inventory for dollar general stores.

  55. […] here: Outrage of the Week: Grammar School Cancels Val Day for “Good of the Students” Ads By CbproAds Share and […]

  56. Uly, you know, I never gave it all a second thought myself until recently. All I know is he ingests pepper the spice, paprika or any sort of bell pepper or chili pepper were are stuck spending our day in the ER and that doesn’t make anyone happy, especially my son who will quit breathing.

  57. Oh, Uly, my husband has the same food allergy. It may be two different allergies that are just coincidental or the two plants are related just enough to be a major problem around here.

  58. @ Donna

    I didn’t mean to imply that our problems are silly. I was referring to the “systems” attempts to protect our children from all possible risks and overreaction to every perceived danger (that aren’t really dangerous at all), when there are much more obvious places to focus…like you pointed out, addiction, abusive home life, the struggling education system. I’d much rather the social worker investigate actual child abuse rather than spending time on the mother that trusted her 7 year old son to walk home from school alone, or the school administrator worry about lagging math and science scores as opposed to policing the playground to the point that all the children are able to do at recess is stand and look at each other (providing the temperature outside it at least 65 degrees).

    I am aware that our society has very real issues, but instead of focusing our parental energies on better education, more stable homes and stiffer sentencing of sex offenders (all very real issues our children face), we are forced to spend it defending our children’s right to a normal childhood and all the risk and rewards that come with it.

    I will always be an outspoken proponent of common sense parenting and fight against the helicoptering mentality because I have witnessed what children are capable of in the most horrific of environments and am confident that the average American child can survive and thrive without all of the silly rules and safety regulations authorities seem determined to force upon them.

  59. Oh…and for whoever said that food allergies come from living in too clean an environment…that’s not the case. You are confusing food allergies with environmental allergens. Eating dirt isn’t going to stop a kid from being allergic to eggs. Believe me, that theory has been tested around here and it failed.

  60. I hated V-Day since I was the kid since I was the one least likely to have one.

    As an aside, St. Valentine was beaten, stoned, and beheaded. We never hear that part of the story on V-Day.

  61. They may have similar allergens (allergens?), but I’m pretty sure they’re not remotely related. Peppers are New World herbs, pepper is an Old World tree.

    But it may be like how a lot of people who are allergic to peanuts are also allergic to treenuts and/or fish. Obviously fishies aren’t nuts, but there you go.

    At any rate, like I said, I don’t doubt you. That’s a huge list of things to be allergic to as a family, though. Must be annoying.

  62. I went back and read the full article. What I found funny was while they remove the celebration of “love and romance,” which implies monogamous relationships, it will be substituted with “Spring Fling,” the latter word that implies one night stands and sex without attachment.

    Now I know Spring Fling is not any more suggestive than the name, I just have to laugh at the ironic choice of words. Abolish love but replace it with a fling.

  63. I thought you guys might enjoy today’s Kickstand comic:
    http://www.yehudamoon.com\index.php?date=2011-02-16

  64. […] learner sometimes.  As I read the comments to today’s blog post about a school in Maryland canceling Valentines Day for “the good of the students”, I found myself in the comments of the blog.  […]

  65. Uly, here is something I learned a while back. There is something known as cross-reactivity allergies. My daughter has a number of experimental allergens that trigger her asthma, like tree pollen. She’s also allergic to carrots, which aren’t in the tree family but share enough characteristics with the birch tree that she’s allergic. Because of her number of allergens (both food and environmental) I am sure that she has Eeosinophilic esophagitis but no one wants to put her through the testing to find out because the testing is pretty invasive. With the family medical history I wouldn’t be surprised to find out if there is something autoimmune causing all the allergies…especially since 98% of them came with puberty after not having any sort of food allergy until that point.

  66. My Huffington Post blog, “Breaking Kids’ Hearts on Valentine’s Day”:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carleton-kendrick/breaking-kids-hearts-on-v_b_820207.html

    Carleton Kendrick
    Family Therapist and Author, “Take Out Your Nose Ring, Honey, We’re Going to Grandma’s”

  67. I have nothing against valentine’s day at school in principle, but in 1st grade most of the cards are bought by the parents and only rarely even signed by the kids. I personally refuse to spend any money on that rubbish. This year my younger daughter chose to make cookies for her class party, so we did that, no cards/gifts. My older daughter couldn’t be bothered to do anything, so she took nothing to her party apart from the food the teacher asked for. In previous years she has designed one card and photocopied X times so everyone in the class could have one as required. I’m not going to go shopping on behalf of my kids if they don’t want to contribute themselves. If there was a home-made only rule we’d have a lot less junk brought home on Valentines day.

    When I was a kid (in UK, not US) we celebrated valentine’s day at school, but it was not sanctioned by the school. We kids had to make the effort and it was much more subversive and fun. (I remember pasting letters from newspapers into my cards while locked in the bathroom so they could be completely anonymous). Classroom valentine’s parties take all the excitement out of it and sanitize it.

  68. Well, can’t say I have ever cared for Valentine’s Day, and lived to the age of 27 without ever celebrating it. But it’s the principle of the thing that irritates me.. .that kids should be protected against everything in life, including living.

    It’s like the joke that went around in my old medical school’s campus: “Life is a form of AIDS: sexually transmitted and inevitably fatal,” has suddenly gotten out into the unprepared minds.

  69. Really?! The school automatically thinks the kids are romantically involved with each other, and want to have babies and get married. Hmmmmm. What a bunch of idiots. At that age, it’s about the feeling of acceptance by their friends. To feel the kinship and “love” that they (hopefully) feel at home. For a bunch of “educators” they don’t know crap about people or the world. Humans by nature are not meant to live a life solitude. We NEED social interactions to develop ourselves as functional and compassionate members of society. This cool is saying that’s wrong?! My nephew is 4…that’s 4. He knows what he is allergic to, and he reminds us all the time. A child who knows this will no willingly put himself in that situation.

    Perhaps these “educators” just have a thing for V-day. Maybe they are old and lonely. I personally don’t believe in V-day. It’s a cash cow. I don’t believe in using ONE day to show your love. That should be EVERYDAY. But I do believe the spirit in which that day brings people closer together. It’s NEVER a bad thing to learn and show you love and you care. This school is basically teaching kids how to be pylons when they are older.

    There has to be a group that over sees the quality of schools, and what they are teaching their students. Schools like this should be shut down or revamped. All they are teaching (other than academics), is negativity, paranoia, and fear. I personally would never enroll my kids in a school that circumvents what I’m instilling in them.

  70. I don’t recall there being “mean” kids in my school when I was in elementary school. I think that it was because the teachers did not allow it. I know this sounds simplistic, but really, it was true. I was not popular, or unpopular. There were some boys that liked to fight, but still, they were boys, and once the fight was done, it was over. No catty girl remarks that I can recall either.

    We didn’t have candy at our parties, and mostly the party consisted of time to make a box or bag to put the cards in, put the cards in, then open and read them. One teacher made popcorn, but other than that, no candy unless it was a piece or two from the teacher – those nasty tasting ones with the messages. After that, it was time to go home, or back to work.

  71. The reasons given make so little sense, I have to wonder if they aren’t just a cover for something else (although what, I don’t know). I have an 8-year-old. She thinks kissing is icky, and her Valentines for boys are strictly platonic. (The girl ones too, but they are mushier, and full of Xs and Os.) She writes things like “I’m glad you’re my friend because you’re so funny!” (Yes, she makes her own cards, with minimal help from us, and no, we don’t send treats with them.) trust me, the kids are not experiencing Valentine’s Day as a giant sex-fest.

    @joghaqal — I have some of those oral allergy syndromes, too. My respiratory allergies are to birch pollen and Eastern ragweed pollen; the associated food allergies are apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, plums, cherries, mulberries, carrots, celery, potatoes, hazelnuts, chestnuts, pecans, and almonds. Fortunately (a) they are not life-threatening, although hazelnuts are pretty bad in their way, and (b) cooking denatures the allergenic proteins sufficiently that except for the nuts, I can eat any of the above if they’re cooked. I actually have more troubles handling these foods than eating them — I just don’t eat any of them raw, but I handle many if them frequently while preparing meals, and I have to be ad vigilant about handwashing when I’m making mashed potatoes, for instance, as most people are with raw chicken.

    Oh, peas and beans are on the list, too. I forgot.

  72. I’m so glad someone commented on the fact that kids can indeed be allergic to lollipops. Sadly, unless your child has food allergies and you have to read the label on absolutely everything, you probably have no idea what’s in some of the things our kids eat. For example, most weiners contain milk products – really! I would never have guessed it until a friend’s son ended up in the ER because of it. As for allergies being caused by being too clean…. my daughter spends heaps of time out at my inlaw’s farm, playing with the dogs & cats, giggling at the horses & cows and quite literally rolling in the dirt (and loving every minute of it, I might add!), but it didn’t magically cure her allergy to milk and eggs. I hope those who think their child being able to have a peanut butter sandwich at school is more important than the health and wellbeing of another child are just ignorant and underinformed. I know I was until my daughter was diagnosed…

  73. “boy-girl relationships”

    Hee-hee! First thought: what about boy-boy, or girl-girl relationships?

  74. Really?? I remember Valentine’s Day being such a fun day. Love it when my kids come home with little cards and goodies! Gives the kids down time and they get to know each other better. So many people just need to get a grip.

  75. Abolishing Valentine’s Day won’t do anything to eliminate elementary-school romance; it starts around fifth grade whether anyone encourages it or not. It was that way when I was in school 30 years ago, and now my sixth-grade daughter regularly comes home and reports that there was some drama over someone liking someone else. (When she passed out candy for V-Day last year, she carefully chose it to make sure it wouldn’t make anyone think she liked them–no Hershey’s Kisses or anything like that.) So this principal can do whatever she wants, but I guarantee her fifth- and sixth-graders are all whispering at recess about who’s “going out” with whom anyway!

  76. @ Kristi – Sorry I misunderstood.🙂

    “I hope those who think their child being able to have a peanut butter sandwich at school is more important than the health and wellbeing of another child are just ignorant and underinformed.”

    I don’t think my child having a peanut butter sandwich is more important than the health of another child, however, I think that another child with an airborne peanut allergy should actually be PRESENT before they ban all peanut products. If my child’s school sent home a note saying that peanut products are banned from the classroom because of a specific child with a serious, deadly airborne peanut allergy, I have no problem with it. However, these types of allergies are extremely rare. Yes, many children are allergic to peanuts but few are allergic to peanuts that they are not actually consuming. There is no reason to ban any items because one kid in the class cannot eat them. With the list of allergies in this thread alone, our kids would be stuck with water for lunch. So I have a real problem with schools banning one of the very few things my child will actually eat because some kids somewhere in the world – although not in this particular school – have airborne peanut allergies.

    And I do have a child with allergies. My daughter is allergic to shellfish which has never been an issue. She is also allergic to band-aids which is tragic for her. She adores band-aids and yet will still turn them down when offered. They had a nurse who recently visited the school for “job week” and who passed out a package with some band-aids. My daughter – prek – handed the package to the teacher and said she can’t have band-aids so the teacher took them away. End of story. Nobody freaked out. The other kids got to keep their bandaids.

    As for Valentine’s Day, why do some schools want to suck all the fun out of childhood? Regardless of the occasion, parties are fun. This just seems to be another example of adults sexualizing normal childhood behavior. K-4 kids don’t care about romance. They care about lollipops, cupcakes and a short period to relax rather than working.

    My daughter’s pre-k class had a Sweetheart Dance and it was so cute. The kids all got dressed up, ate fancy foods for lunch and danced. The teacher used it as a fun way to teach manners. The only definition of “Sweetheart” that my daughter had afterwards pertained to those nasty conversation hearts. And ALL the kids in the class signed their own Valentines so parents of elementary school kids who are still signing their kids’ names to cards are just lazy.

  77. Saint Valentine – the patron saint of greeting card company directors and florists

  78. Here’s an idea: if you’re allergic to candy, dont eat it. In my classroom, if there was a severe allergy, I’d simply mention it on the Valentine class list.

  79. There may be no connection between hyperactivity and sugar, but gives kids a reason to be excited and they will take it. And why not? It’s fun.

    I once read a thought on Valentine cards that stuck with me. In elementary school, it’s fairly standard to give everyone a card, whether they be friend, teacher, enemy, cute boy, etc. Yet as we age, we have to be more selective, and then little signs of affection are no longer good enough.

    I say have a Valentine’s party and let excitement and generic kindness run rampant!

  80. When you eleminate every activity that could offend someone or fear the consequences of every activity you take living out of life. You once went from childhood to adulthood and at an early age. We now give our children adolesence which allows them to remain children until they are 30. Fear well kill us as a society.

  81. I can understand the school not allowing candy or other treats for a Valentines celebration if they have many different food allergies or if you are limited in the number of parties you can have food at. Personally I think it should be handled on a classroom basis with the exception of maybe peanuts. If a classroom has no or few food allergies then let them put the candies in the Valentines. You don’t need to take a whole day to have a Valentines party. You need a half hour to pass out cards and maybe play a game. Set the cards aside and send them home. Tada Valentine celebrated. I can even see canceling all but the card exchange if you have behavior problems with the class.

    The idea that Valentines in grade school is promoting romantic love is just and excuse. There is nothing terribly romantic r romantic at all about giving out prepackaged cards from a box to all of your classmates. It’s simply a fun break from the normal routine and a way to celebrate friendships. Those breaks from routine are cherished and looked forward to as a kids, even if the teachers don’t care for them. It’s a great time to tie in a lesson on healthy eating as well. Sure some kids will give another an extra special one and have a boyfriend or girlfriend but it isn’t because of Valentines day and not celebrating isn’t going to stop it. Like someone else said I was “married” quite a few times in grade school and had even more “boyfriends”. None of them ever originated or had anything to do with the exchange of a valentine.

  82. @enyawface what are you defining as school yard bullying. I don’t mind teaching kids social skills and how do deal with people they don’t like. Name calling and other childish things.

    Beatings, threats of rape, harassment to the level of endangering the mental well being of the student are and should be criminal matters. As a child I was near suicidal after repeated beating and graphic threats of rape.

    Holier than thou bible thumpers will gladly drive gay students to suicide and if that doesn’t work they will murder them.

    I’m sure you agree that those kids shouldn’t just have to deal.

    I know most normal adults, like you, are shocked with I tell them I had a Kindergarten classmate threaten to rape me in graphic terms, or that a kindergarten student in my current school stabbed another child with a pencil – “To see if he would cry” This required an ER trip for the injured child. A PK student (4 yo)sent an adult to the ER a few years later. Mentally/emotionally disturbed children seem to have superhuman strength.

    The problem is that laws that were written to protect students and teacher from profoundly disturbed children are being used against normal children. But I don’t want them repealed, because I remember the 6 years of hell before my Uncles figured out what was happening to me, and my parents took legal action to protect me. What I want is administrators to be better educated and informed so they know when to handle something in house and when to call the cops.

  83. Cards and candy galore at both my kids schools. And parties and games.

    My daughter even got a mini-snickers bar attached to one card, and she has a deathly peanut allergy. Guess what? She simply refrained from eating it, and mommy enjoyed that particular valentine.

    I have never been to a school, or had a child go to a school, where it was not a requirement that, if you brought cards, you had to bring them for every child in the class – so I fail to see how anyone can feel left out.

    This was one of my favorite school days, and my kids love it to. I’d hate to see that tradition killed. It’s a holiday you don’t really celebrate much OUTSIDE of school as a kid, so to kill it in school would be to slay the holiday altogether. And holidays make life happy.

  84. I think *banning* Valentine’s Day exchanges would be over the top (just as rules against hugging and hand-holding in high school are absurd), but I’d be okay with de-emphasizing them. If a kid has a crush on another kid and wants to give them a card or somthing, they can do it in private or on the sly, and that’d be more romantic than anything mediated by the teacher. And it glamorizes romance at an age where boys and girls should be learning how to get along as fellow human beings, before issues of sexual attraction get in the way.
    All that said, if the kids are expecting a traditional Valentine’s Day and it’s taken away, then that’s kind of mean. Better to “grandfather” the older classes in, and only enact the new rules for kindergartners who haven’t had it the old way.

  85. I have never been to a school, or had a child go to a school, where it was not a requirement that, if you brought cards, you had to bring them for every child in the class – so I fail to see how anyone can feel left out.

    The last Ramona book spelled out how that can happen. Ramona carefully made cards for her few real friends – and was shocked at the end of the book when Susan (the snotty character) burst into tears at a birthday party because “nobody really likes me”, mentioning specifically that she only got the cards you HAVE to give out and none of the special cards you give to friends.

  86. Totally absurd. Thanks for continuing to kill childhood. These are our childrens’ educators? Frightening.

  87. I’m a huge fan of free range kids, and I agree with the principal.
    Romance and early sexualisation are a growing problem. I wouldn’t want my kids to be bothered with all that. To me it’s not about managing relationships or friendships, it’s about age appropriateness.

  88. My daughter is 2.5 and is big on the word “love”. She knows what it means too: caring for a person or object’s wellbeing. I think as a culture we get too caught up with the contextual definitions of love such as sex and romance, when love is a far more universal concept. You can “love” a friend, a pet, a book, etc.

    Just the other day we were walking in the park and my daughter saw an overturned orange cone – you know, the kind they use for traffic safety. She rushed over to it worried for it’s wellbeing (because at her age everything is anthropomorphized), declaring she “loved” the cone while helping it up. Which is actually an appropriate use for the word, although most people would be confused by it.

  89. Kids with allergies are usually very smart about what they eat and they won’t put anything in their mouth until it’s been thouroughly checked for allergens. Besides, if treats on cards are a problem, then why not just ban the treat instead of the entire event?

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