02/12/2014 05:35 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

An (Over-The-Top) Guide to Reading Into Your Child's Valentines

Tetra Images - Daniel Grill via Getty Images

For the first time in well over a decade, I have pre-Valentines Day jitters.

The typical woman panics: Will I get long stem roses at the office? Will he finally change his Facebook relationship status? And if so, should I take a bigger risk with my bikini wax?

But not me. My greatest concern is not if, but when, my daughters will feel their first tinge of a broken heart.

There's a reason why young boys are playing little league and using a magnifying glass to spot their first chest hair while young girls are watching Heathers and Jawbreaker (OK, Mean Girls and Gossip Girl). As boys train to be men, girls train to be bitches, and preschool is their boot camp.

Thus, there is much to be taken from the Valentines your child receives -- or doesn't. Here are some guidelines:

  • Don't be too quick to assume the kid who doesn't hand out cards has an absentee parent, or has anti-Valentine's Day religious affiliations. More than likely, the "oversight" is an intentional way of putting a vibe out that child is "too cool."
  • I stayed away from boys that liked Dungeons & Dragons, and I will be sure my daughters steer clear of any boy that is way too into The Wiggles.
  • These days, it takes weeks of study to memorize the unusual names on any grade school class roster. Perfect spelling of a weird first name is good, but include the middle name correctly and you've basically offered a promise ring.
  • Those at the top of their social game will choose a box of cards featuring an ensemble cast and give them out hierarchically. Simply put, you want your daughter to get the Jennifer Aniston, not the Lisa Kudrow.
  • Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty are so 2000 & late. Popular girls give (and receive) Ni Hao Kai Lan. She speaks Mandarin Chinese.


  • I'm not saying there is sexual innuendo in all classrooms, but I'd keep an eye out for the girl who gets lots of references to Jasmine.
  • Sweetheart candies have come a long way since "Be Mine", but spot one that reads "Let's Sniff The Glue Together," and you've got problems.

I've often wondered when life gets easier, and heard that it doesn't. I wish I could tell my girls that their hearts will remain intact forever, but it would be a lie. Whether they shed tears over the loss of a V-tech toy or their V-card, it's all the same.

The key is in teaching them to love themselves more than anything else and stay whole despite a broken heart... remembering, all the while, that a broken heart leaves more room to let love in.

Follow Karri-Leigh's adventures as a television producer, blogger and mom on Dirty Laundry & Dirty Diapers.