I arrived home from my lunch meeting last week in time to walk out to the end of the neighbor’s driveway to pick up my oldest off the bus. He bounded down the steps and started rattling off to me all the things that were going on in his busy three hours of afternoon kindergarten.
My head jerked down towards him. “Wait, what” I asked?
“Neighbor Girl told me that we’re breaking up, but that’s good because she’s too bossy anyway,” he explained. “But that’s OK because I have a new girlfriend, Down the Street Girl.”
“Uh-huh,” I replied, looking at him a bit curiously but trying to look cool and nonplussed. “And what does that mean, just that she’s a girl and your friend?”
“No, we’re in love,” he said and looked up at me with a sheepish grin.
Now honestly, and I’m sincere in this statement, my wife and I have not encouraged this. In fact, if anything, we’ve gone out of our way to be careful to play down the whole girl thing. Personally I believe that being caught up in girls, even just innocently as a little boy, is setting one’s self up for nothing but heartache and extra trouble. I strongly advocate the approach of thinking that girls are yucky until high school. It makes life much easier. (To be fair, generally I do think this is the case with him. Aside from this particular crush of the moment, he and his younger brother mostly make comments about how girls only play with Barbies and are yucky.)
Now I was not a science major, but from what I understand, there’s something to the idea that parents pass certain traits down to their children. I could never be accused of being a Romeo, but early on (very early), I was breaking hearts just like he seems to be. According to family lore, as a four-year-old, each week at church I gave a kiss goodbye to little Suzy Church Girl before we went home. While I’m sorry to say that the response from the female gender seemed to wane soon thereafter, I never seemed to lose that fascination with having a crush on a pretty girl, and to this day I could probably tell you who I was infatuated with from kindergarten through college. I won’t go into detail seeing as how with Facebook, everyone you ever met is now only a couple clicks away. (Tragically, it wasn’t until college that I really gained the confidence to make any hay with that interest – but I’m happy to report that eventually it all worked out according to plan – thanks for reading and I love you Honey!)
I think that there could be some peer pressure or outside encouragement involved with my son. He’s a cute kid but for some reason, even during preschool, there have been a couple of girls that seem to take to him and get all puppy love, which then encourages him with the attention and he gets all giddy. He still talks longingly about his old flame from last year at preschool and vows that he will marry her in a couple years. (She was a nice girl, but I think it was for the best that she was Next Town Over Girl and couldn’t follow him to kindergarten.) At his first real parent teacher conference a couple weeks ago, the teacher told my wife that early in the year he was holding hands with Neighbor Girl on the storytime rug. It is unclear who was initiating that, but it was seemingly quickly stopped, even before the “breakup.” This morning, I took him and his brother to a Breakfast with Frosty event at the kindergarten. The tables were covered in brown paper with crayons on them and as we sat and ate our doughnuts, he chose to write, “I heart Down-the-Street Girl.” Seriously, this needs to stop.
I’m really not sure what the best parental response to all this should be. I’m thankful that my wife and I seem to largely be in agreement that the best approach is to underplay it and humor him while keeping a close eye on things not getting carried away. When questioned, we’ve already had to lay down the law that, no, kissing is not appropriate for a six year old. No, even if she asks. We’ve repeatedly reinforced the idea that we have lots of friends, some are boys and some are girls.
While I can’t guess the reason for this too-early facination, I can only assume that this will fade. Although every once in a while I hear stories from people who talk about how, much to their amazement, their sons have just always been attracting attention from girls like flypaper. What if that happens with him? As unlikely as that occurrence may be, one thing is for sure: these are the days I am glad that I have sons. As bizarre as all of this is, I would be utterly unprepared to deal with news that my little girl had an admirer, no matter if she was six-years-old or sixteen. I don’t know how all you dads with daughters do it. In the meantime, I propose that we all make a pact – for the next ten years I’ll keep my boys away from your girls if you keep them away from mine – after that, all bets are off!