In Which I Ruin Valentine's Day And Then Redeem Myself

A and I aren't enthusiastic observers of Valentine’s Day. We appreciate the ritual to remind us of sweetness, especially during the current date night drought, but we are healthily skeptical of a holiday that does so much for the bottom line of Hallmark. So it’s our habit to celebrate, but a week or so after the 14th. This way, we get a romantic holiday without feeling (so much) like sheep. Plus, we take advantage of discounts on chocolate and flowers, and, more importantly, are better able to get a table at the restaurant of our choice, not to mention a babysitter.

So Thursday was not to be a big family holiday around our house, but I’d planned a play date with a friend, and when I realized it fell on Valentine’s day I decided I’d let my inner Martha out on parole and bake heart-shaped cookies, make frosting, and let the girls get themselves sticky with the decorating.

Ingrid and I cut out and baked the cookies yesterday morning while Iris screeched at us from the sling. Ingrid did a lot of the cookie cutting. She also ate an unmeasured but certainly very large amount of cookie dough, which may account for the trouble that began at nap time.

Just before nap time, my friend called; her daughter was sick, and they couldn’t come for the play date. When I put Ingrid down for her nap, she lay there quietly for a while, and I came downstairs, but after a few minutes I started to hear pitiful crying on the monitor.

I went up and asked her what was wrong. Remember that time I threw up in my bed? I don’t want to throw up. Huh. Was she coming down with the stomach flu? A little queasy from eating three pounds of sugar cookie dough? Worried about getting sick because she heard that her friend was? Or did she just not want to take a damn nap? Or some combination of those?

I didn’t want to be harsh on her if she actually was feeling awful and/or about to throw up. I didn’t want to get (as I often am) sucked into a lot of weird nap delay tactics. Mostly, I wanted her to take a nap, and I wanted to somehow figure out whether she was actually sick (she didn’t look it) or not.

I thought for a minute and then said, with sincere, calm sympathy, Oooh, I really hope you’re not sick. If you’re so sick you can’t go to sleep or have some quiet time in your crib, then we won’t be able to do fun things in the afternoon like decorate cookies.

I know. I know.

One long conversation, some tears, an amount of patience (on my part) I hadn't thought possible, and NO NAP later, we were both downstairs. Ingrid happily (and pukelessly) playing with puzzles and occasionally checking the current status with an unemotional Can we decorate cookies now? , and me kicking myself for holding that out as a consequence and probably sadder about missing the fun cookie thing than Ingrid was, but sticking to my guns.

I am not sure what good it did. By dinner she was so tired she was nodding at the table and saying I can’t see any of my pizza. (She couldn’t see it because her eyes were closed.) Perhaps next time I make an idle nap time threat I will choose the consequence more carefully.

But, as promised, this evening after work we all got up to our elbows in frosting. There were grins all around, Ingrid ate an unmeasured, large number of cookies, and she went to bed without a peep. Looks like the whole family grooves on the habit of celebrating Valentine’s day after the 14th.

These are just the ones that made it onto the plate.


  1. Aw, you were so reasonable. :)

  2. I hate when I make a consequence I don't want to follow through with. Some book I read gives you ways to back out of situations like that without losing face--maybe No Cry Discipline Solution? I'll have to look it up.

    Also, YUM.