Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Young Love

...I am so not ready to deal with this

An absolutely terrifying thing has been happening in my house lately. I knew it would happen eventually, but I never expected it to happen when my kids were still in elementary school. My boys have been talking a lot about a strange and murky topic: girls. For the longest time I was the only “girl” in their lives. I am the lone female in a house with one man, two boys, and two male cats. As my friend Sara says, “I’m an island of estrogen in a sea of testosterone”.
With Valentine’s Day almost upon us, my dear sweet eight-year-old boy has been weighing his options about how and if to tell his sweetheart how he feels. Frankly, I’m damned if I know what to tell him. When I was eight, girls noticed boys and boys ignored girls in favor of collecting bugs, playing baseball and making fart jokes. Apparently the little guys are more sophisticated these days, so he’s been trying to figure out how to give her a Valentine without the entire third grade noticing. Owen only sees Melanie* at outdoor recess—which they haven’t had in ages thanks to Snowapalooza 2011.
He’s also very confused about the feelings he’s having. He keeps asking, “I don’t know why I like her. Is it because she’s pretty? She’s a good person too—she was citizen of the month.” I’ve tried to explain that there isn’t always an explanation as to why we’re attracted to a particular person. It’s just something that happens. This is not a useful explanation to give a kid as analytical as Owen. He is a boy in search of concrete, scientific data—and as adults we know that in matters of the heart, there is no such thing. I only hope that being a “citizen of the month” means that Melanie does not laugh at my little guy if he works up the courage to give her that valentine.
I think a lot of this mushy-lovey stuff has come up lately because of my younger son, who seems to be something of a “chick magnet”. Before he reached the first grade two separate girls had already informed him that they intend to marry him. Now it seems that at the tender age of six he has a girlfriend. Here’s a conversation my husband overheard the two boys having last week:

Owen: James, do you have a girlfriend?
James: Yeah.
Owen: Who is it?
James: Annie*
Owen: How do you know she’s your girlfriend?
James: Because she told me.

            Girlfriends? I’m not ready for this. Aren’t girls still supposed to be icky? I thought all the questions that Owen had when he was preparing for First Communion were hard to answer. Theology is a piece of cake by comparison! Last week Owen told me that a classmate of his kissed a girl on the bus. I said, “But you’re only in third grade!”
            “It was last year. In second grade,” he reported.
            “Oh my God!”
            “You’re not supposed to say that.”
            “Trust me honey, God totally understands why I said it.”

*Names have been changed to protect the adorable