When Destructor Robots Nearly Derailed Valentine’s

Yes, I'm recycling an image I've already used because I love these: Valentines my great aunt sent me from the 1930s.

Yes, I’m recycling an image I’ve already used because I love these: Valentines my great aunt sent me from the 1930s.

Miles run today: 4.5

Valentines waiting to be addressed on our kitchen table: 30

Days until Valentine’s Day: 1

February 13, 2007, 8 p.m.

“Put on your shoes!” I yell, grabbing my keys and purse. I am on my way to the grocery store with my two children, ages 4 and 6.

My husband is out of town, it’s raining, and the kids are already in their pajamas.

“Don’t worry; no one will see you. Put on a coat, and we’ll pretend you’re wearing pants,” I tell my son, who is in kindergarten.

“But there are spaceships on them!” he yells.

“Sometimes people like to wear pants with spaceships on them,” I say, as we dash to the minivan, getting pelted with raindrops.

My daughter is sobbing, her tiny hands clenched into fists.

Five minutes earlier7:55 p.m.

“Hey, are you almost finished with those cards? It’s time for bed.” I walk into the dining room, where my daughter is addressing Valentine’s Day cards for her preschool friends. There is a list of 22 friends, and my daughter is using preternaturally gorgeous penmanship to write each child’s name on the Disney Princess-themed cards.

She reaches for another card, but her hand comes up with nothing.

She leans over the box and scrambles around inside.

Nothing. No more cards.

I tilt the box sideways. “So you must be finished, right? You had 30 cards, and you only have 22 classmates and two teachers.”

“Nooooo,” she says, pushing them all into a neat pile and pointing at her list with checkmarks next to most names. “I have five left to do.”

“Five? How is that possible?” I check the inside of the box again.

Her eyes focus on her lap. Silence.

“What happened?” I say, touching her shoulder.

“Well… I made some Valentines for my… my… my animals.” She looks up at me, and her face turns blotchy red, a sure sign of tears brewing.

“How many did you make for your stuffed animals?” I ask, sinking into a chair and cradling my head.

She starts to whimper. “Well, one for Bear Bear, one for Pinkie, and Bunny-Bunny-Love, and a few others, and I might have messed up on one or two…”

8:05 p.m.

A herd or flock or swarm of Valentine’s-loving locusts has ravaged the pink-and-red card display.

I am standing with two kids in pajamas and tennis shoes, one crying, one asking for chocolate, and the 20-something business-casual types who drop into the grocery store at 8 p.m. to grab sushi are eyeing our ragtag group with suspicion.

There are no more Disney Princess cards. No more mermaids or cute bunnies. What is left: destructor megatronic robots and manga-style girls with huge alien eyes and miniskirts with thigh-high socks.

“Mo-oooo-ooommmmy! There are no more caaaaaaards!”

We are causing A Scene.

I rummage through every single shelf until at the very back, I find some mangled Bob the Builder cards and emerge victorious.

“Yes! Can We Find It? Yes! We! Can!” I sing.

“Bob the Builder is for boys!” my daughter cries, but her sobs have switched back to quiet whimpers.

“But you have boys in your class who will love these!”

My son rolls his eyes. “Can we go home now?”

By 8:45 p.m., my daughter finishes addressing her cards. And the next day, some crazy mom brings in Ferrero Rocher candies for the kids. It will be the last decent candy any of them see for at least 10 years.

February 13, 20138 a.m.

My husband has helped my daughter craft her own Valentines out of a rabbit picture she drew. He printed them off for her and only needed to cut them… but the nice cutting thingie is at work.

“Um. No. They need to get cut this morning,” I say, hands on hips.

He looks at me as he turns away from some serious work thing. “I’m working.”

I give him The Look and try to transfer some of my Valentine’s Day horror flashbacks onto his consciousness. This has never worked, and I don’t know why I expect it to today.

But he cuts them. “Are you sure you need 30? Are there really 30 people in the class?”

“She needs 30. Trust me on this.” Tears, buddy. Tears. Mayhem. Destructor Robots.

I have been remiss in accepting a couple of blog awards. I wanted to say thank you so much for thinking of me and point out some great blogs you may or may not be visiting.


Thank you, Mike Lince, who blogs at Applecore. He and his wife have set a course to move to a different country every six months. They just finished in Panama, now they’re in Mexico, they plan to move to Scotland in July, and after that, Spain. He writes some wonderfully informative posts with great photographs.

I’d like to pass this award on to a few bloggers (please feel free to use or ignore as necessary):

Vanessa-Jane Chapman’s new(ish) blog, Sugarness, will make you want to lick  your screen. (If it’s dusty, like mine, fight the urge.) Yummy chocolate recipes will start piling up on your to-bake list. Thanks, Vanessa, I think.

OK. Don’t be mad, because this one is a bit self-centered… I wrote a post about being 10, and someone else I follow got inspired to write about being 10, and hers was… wow! So much more (as Subtle Kate would say) muchier. Check out this post by Desertrose. So good.

Also, many of you already follow her, but JM McDowell’s serial mystery about archaeologist Meghan Bode, Buried Deeds, is one you won’t want to miss each Tuesday. Don’t worry; she’s on the 11th installment, but she has the rest archived if you’ve missed them.

Thank you to Kate at 4am Writer for the Blog of the Year Award for 2012. She is humble, kind, a generous blogger and friend to writers everywhere. I can’t wait to read her novel(s) when she’s ready to share them with the world.

I guess it’s a little late to be passing this one on… but I’ll share a few blogs that I’ve enjoyed over the past year so you can start enjoying them, too.

If you haven’t read one of Gabriela Blandy’s posts at A Sense of a Journey, you’ve been missing out. Fan.Tas.Tic. What a great writer! And if you want a title for your posts that draws people in, call up Gabriela. The woman can do no wrong.

You dig? I can’t stop looking at the photos of Florida at SmallHouseBigGarden. Gorgeous photos, she knows all the Latin names and growth habits of every blooming thing south of the Mason-Dixon line. Especially if you’re sitting inside on a drizzly rainy day like today, those photos will transport you somewhere warm. Divine.

I can relate to this fellow mom on the other side of the Atlantic. She turned 40 last year like I did, writes about shoes and lipstick and music and pyromaniacs and politicians and Cadbury’s. Yum. Check out TurningTwiceTwenty to read her latest musings.

And thanks for the awards!


33 thoughts on “When Destructor Robots Nearly Derailed Valentine’s

  1. robincoyle says:

    I miss the days of my sugar-amped kids coming home after school Valentine’s parties. Opening up the Valentine cards was magical.

  2. Melissa says:

    I am so glad I don’t have to worry about that anymore. I mean seriously thankful. I do have one question…Why do they (the husbands) always question us? Are you sure you need 30? I think it’s a gender thing. “The car was doing what? That’s not possible.” Umm…yes it was. If I said it was, it was. Oh well. Hope y’all have a great Valentines!

  3. Bernie Brown says:

    I think it sooooo sweet that your daughter gave her stuffed animals Valentine’s Day cards. That is true love.

  4. Daryl says:

    Ink, sharp blades and card stock- check; at least I can make some more tonight if I need to. This story makes me want to wrap my arms around our little Bear–that’s the real one and not the stuffed one.

  5. Carrie Rubin says:

    I loved your Valentine nightmare stories as I have suffered them in the past myself. But at my kids’ school, they had to hand make their Valentine’s Day cards; no store bought ones. And yeah, you know how exciting this is for young boys. Which means Mom got stuck helping out, otherwise they’d have been nothing but an empty piece of construction paper with my son’s name scribbled on it. So glad those days are over!

    • annewoodman says:

      Yes, my kids decided it would be cool to handmake their cards several years running (the year I describe was preschool; she hadn’t thought of making hers that year). The handmaking thing always sounds like a good idea… until they see how much work they are. Lesson learned: over and over and over. ; )

  6. jmmcdowell says:

    I’d like to think I never caused such a late-night run for my mom, but something tells me I’d be wrong. 😉 This post brings back memories of some years making big construction paper envelopes and taping them to the front of our desks to hold the cards. Other years, we made boxes from the paper and put them on our desks. I do know no one’s mother ever sent expensive chocolates in for all of us! 🙂 They may not have been available in our town….

    And thank you so much for thinking of me for the Versatile Blogger award! I’m doing an awards post for Saturday and will be good and get this one added promptly! It will be nowhere as creative as yours, I suspect….

    • annewoodman says:

      I look forward to your post, JM. ; )

      Yes, I remember those construction-paper-covered boxes we used to make. I was not particularly artistic, so mine were always lacking in some way. Valentine’s Day was not really my favorite day of the year. Thank goodness my husband is romantic and stuck with me. ; )

  7. thepoelog says:

    Hilarious! I totally would have been one of those sushi toting people cutting eyes at THE SCENE. But I would also be guilty of giving a V-Day card to an inanimate object or two in my day. It’s a relief to find that Valentine’s Day is stressful, even for the little peoples.

  8. Aww, thank you so much for nominating Sugarness, it’s my first award for that blog! I think Sugarness was starting to get envious of my main blog, so this will help 😉

    You probably know from your husband, but here in the UK Valentine’s is very much just amongst couples. So we don’t have any of that getting cards for the whole class thing!

  9. desertrose7 says:

    Oh I’m so glad we just don’t “do” Valentines day here like you do there. Well, so maybe some people do here, but you know…I didn’t even realise it was V day today! And here I just posed a grumpy rant about my other half. lol!!!!
    Very funny story and I can totally relate to the scenario, having experienced similar at other times when the kids were little.
    “some people like wearing spaceships” lol!
    Have a lovely day!
    Oh and thanks for the mention. 🙂

  10. Anne – I decided that this was going into my top 2 favourite posts of yours before I saw my lovely shout out. Honest 😉
    I just adored that glimpse into your daughter and her cute ways. This would make such a beautiful short story. I love it.
    As for me and doing no wrong – I can now remind myself that there is someone in the world who believes that, whenever I feel blue. You gem!!

  11. I am surpised with you, Anne! You striked me at the type of person who’d have several years-worth of valentines in reserve.

    But, man, that is a funny story.

  12. […] just a few days ago, Anne Woodman of Writing by the Numbers graced me with the Versatile Blogger Award. If you haven’t visited her blog, what are you […]

  13. 4amWriter says:

    Funny Heart Day stories, Anne. This year I was late buying valentines for my kids because we got the smackdown from that blizzard the weekend before. When I finally remembered there was an important holiday approaching, I ran, RAN, to Wal-Mart. They had nothing. And there were still 2 days left! I ended up at K-Mart, which saved my life. They had Star Wars and Disney Fairies and V-Day was saved.

    I can’t believe your husband cut out 30 bunnies. He’s a good Dad. 🙂

    • annewoodman says:

      My husband is a very good dad. ; )

      I tell you, Valentine’s Day is still not my favorite. Much rather do the romantic things throughout the year or on our anniversary than on the craziness that Valentine’s has become. And don’t even get me started on all the kid/school/Valentine craziness. Ick.

  14. Ravena Guron says:

    Valentine’s day was never a big deal for us. Although my school went on a trip to Paris in year 9 (we were 13) and we were in Disneyland in valentine’s day. We were like that kid in the beginning of the Princess Bridge (kissing? ewwww!) (If you haven’t seen it, you should :D)

    Great post, Anne!

  15. […] Anne Woodman’s brilliant portrayal of her daughter here – and I’m not saying this just because Anne happens to mention that I can do no […]

  16. hi Anne, This is my first time reading and I’m so happy to read about a life similar to mine told in written a fun way. I’m looking forward to reading more of your thoughts…
    Gabriela Blandy sent me here (she left a crumb trail on her blog) and I’m so glad that she did.
    cheers, bllu

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