Series of 4th graders’ Valentine’s Day cards, 2001

I love you so much I want to throw sand in your eyes.

Dear Cindy,

You are the prettiest girl in class. My mom told me to say that to you. I would like to chase you around the playground and rub mud in your face, but I’m not sure why. Will you be my Valentine?

Love, Rodney

*

Dear Rodney,

I think you are very smart. You do long division really fast. There’s something about the way you hold your pencil that makes me want to throw snowballs at your face. When Mrs. Stockton yelled at you for pulling Terri’s pigtails, I was jealous. I want to be your Valentine, except I promised Ducky, my stuffed duck from the aquarium field trip.

Love, Cindy

*

Dear Cindy,

When I pulled on Terri’s hair,  I imagined it was yours. I am sorry you promised your duck. I will cut its head off with scissors once I’m old enough to use the real ones.

Love, Rodney

*

Dear Rodney,

Actually, Kevin asked me to be his Valentine, and he gave me candy. See you at recess maybe!

Fondly, Cindy

*

Dear Kevin,

How could you? I thought we were bros. Next time you come over, I’m not gonna let you be Luigi in Mario Kart. You have to be Toad.

Not cool, Rodney

Analysis:

As a record of American primary school relational development, these Valentines are excellent historical specimens of the year 2001. It was an age of innocence–7 months prior to the 9/11 attacks that would change U.S. foreign policy and Valentine’s Day forever. But the imminent terrorist threat wasn’t on the minds of Cindy or Rodney or even the somewhat more politically aware Kevin–they were only interested in the pleasurable violence that accompanies young love.

As part of our research, we followed up with Cindy, Rodney and Kevin, who are now all three seniors at the University of Arizona. Kevin is the president of his fraternity. Cindy still has a standing date every February 14th with Ducky. And Rodney is currently suspended for pushing a woman he liked into the dirt.

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