Markets in Everything for school Valentine’s

I am your intrepid reporter, deep in the trenches of real mommy blogs and neighborhood Facebook groups. This year, a local entrepreneur is offering to take one job out of the hands of working parents: making a personalized valentine for every kid in your child’s school classroom.

Would anyone actually consider paying for this? Yup.

In many American schools, students are asked to bring a valentine card for every student in their home classroom. It’s out of control. When my child was only 3 years old, parents in the preschool class made valentine cards with small gifts or snacks attached for everyone. No one wants this.

What irritates me about this pictured offer for paid work is that it perpetuates the idea that every single family is expected to provide something high quality that appears to be an act of great love. Clearly, these moms just see it as yet another to-do in a very long list. What about the moms (dads, guardians) who can’t afford to outsource the work?  

To make the world a better place, I took a stand by putting in absolutely minimal effort this year and forcing my son to help. Other moms will feel really good about themselves when they see the low-grade card we are sending. “At least I outdid Joy,” they will sigh with relief.

A signaling model can explain why families would try hard for this once-a-year showcase of their unobservable quality. You want other families to know you are a high-quality family, so you signal with this gift that will go in the trash.

Tyler started “Markets in Everything”.

By the way, I wrote a Valentine’s piece a while ago. Someday I’ll google how that situation with cocoa beans in the Ivory Coast is shaping up currently.

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