I’m trying to join the “Blog Hop”, devoted to children with special needs and new and exciting developments. But it’s apparently beyond my technological abilities to add the html coding in right <a href=””>here… sigh. So, here’s a link to Elvis Sightings, who got it right…
Elizabeth has her first sweetheart. Well, perhaps not her very first… but her first sweetheart in fourth grade.
Her very first sweetheart was in preschool- at age 3 to be precise. His name was Tyler and he was a “younger man” whose birthday was 4 months after hers. We all remember Tyler for two things- his 4th birthday party that was Star Wars-themed- since my children had never heard of it and were boggled at the stuff- and for being responsible for Elizabeth discovering kissing. She liked kissing Tyler and he liked kissing her. A lot. They got in trouble for kissing during almost every classroom party. They were separated most of them, but over the course of that year, they kissed at every major holiday. We all laughed and were glad that they enjoyed each other- because they really did. Tyler was Elizabeth’s first friend- they played cars together, they ran around together and they gravitated towards each other on the playground. Theirs was a relationship of few words. Elizabeth was still struggling to learn to talk and tended to run when she was bored. Tyler ran after her, which distracted her and provided a game. The teacher, who was also Tyler’s mother,soon realized that this type of play allowed both of them a partner, distracted them both from negative emotions, and worked with them on appropriate boundaries. And separated them at holiday parties.
Elizabeth and Tyler were best friends/sweethearts for an entire year- which at that point, was 1/4 of their lives! When we were leaving at the end of the school year, Elizabeth cried, and Tyler (ok, Tyler’s mom) made her a card and gave her a necklace. We moved- and Elizabeth continued to cry. She cried for six months- and I have very distinct memories of holding my 4 1/2 year child in our rocking chair as she cried over a boy.
Until she met Theo. She and Theo did group work together, ran around with each other, and played house together at her new preschool. The day they played husband and wife, and yes… kissed, the teacher had to discuss boundaries with them. Elizabeth was all ready to settle down with Theo after six months of togetherness, but we moved… again.
In Louisville, Elizabeth cried over Theo, but not as much, because she immediately met George in kindergarten. What she had learned from her previous encounters was that teachers will stop you if you kiss, so you can kiss as long as you’re not caught. However, the day that she and George kissed behind the school during recess, the other children were so agog with interest that the teachers immediately found out- and it was dealt with quietly. Not a huge fuss- but a clear message of “Not appropriate”. Elizabeth soon found out that her friends would rat her out, because George liked kissing her and they kissed a couple more times, when it was brought to my attention by the teachers. She also decided that she didn’t really like George as much as she had thought- he wanted to play football and not just run. He wanted to talk to his friends more than he wanted to talk to her- and so she stopped hanging out with George and found new friends- girls this time, and none of whom she kissed.
Until Jack. Jack is Ray’s best friend- whom we love and whose family we’re very close to. That Jack. Elizabeth has always hung around the periphery of Ray and Jack’s friendship, playing their games as well and sharing in their conversations. She started collecting Pokemon cards with them, and built Legos with them. For Ray’s 6th birthday, Ray, Elizabeth and Jack and I went to the Newport Aquarium, and stayed late. I was driving the three of them home- about an hour-long drive- and Ray started getting very… Ray. Grumpy, tired, outbursts, etc. Jack, who has learned how to handle Ray, simply turned his attention to Elizabeth and they started talking quietly and laughing together. About halfway through the drive, Ray fell asleep. All was quiet in the back seat, until I heard a little giggle from Elizabeth. That kind of giggle. I looked in the rear view mirror and saw Jack leaning in and Elizabeth leaning flirtaciously back. Clearly, there had been kissing going on. “Excuse me,” I interrupted. “We don’t need to be kissing. That is not appropriate.” And I drove the rest of the way home inwardly gawking that I just busted my 7-year old daughter making out in the back seat.
Evidently, Jack’s parents spoke to him, or Elizabeth decided that Jack was better as a pseudo-brother than a sweetheart, because there has been no repeat of the kissing. And there hasn’t been any sweetheart or male play partner since then. Elizabeth has since learned that in 2nd and 3rd grades, the boys don’t really want to be friends with a- ewww! girl! and her play partners have been limited to girls.
And then 4th grade hit- and Emily. Emily is much, much more mature than Elizabeth. Emily, who has started the “So-and-so likes so-and-so” whisper campaigns. Whose first comment after seeing the recent Harry Potter movie was “Did you see them KISSING?”, completely ignoring the scary plot line. Emily is clearly ahead of my daughter.
I hope she’s ahead of my daughter.
Because last night, as I was tucking Elizabeth into bed last night, she shared that she “likes Jason”. Jason who sits next to her. Jason who helps her with her science. Jason, whom Emily does not like because he blurts out the answers and talks too much. Jason who is smart and funny and cute and likes her too- she thinks. She’s planning on asking Molly to ask if he likes her too.
I watched my daughter with stars in her eyes describe a boy that she liked and my heart turned over.
Turned over because I remember 4th grade love- Ronny Jackson. I remember not having the nerve to actually talk to him, but becoming a “couple” through the intricacies of 4th grade relationship-building that is done through proxy, where my friends talked to him about me, and his friends talked to me about him. How we were a “couple” until Tammy Sanchez- my “best friend”- who had been the go-between, decided that she liked him and informed him and me and the rest of the 4th grade that he was now her boyfriend. 4th grade is brutal.
As I listened to Elizabeth get starry-eyed last night, I worried about heartbreak. If she could cry over Tyler for six months, what will she do over Jason? Her little heart is very, very passionate and when she gets attached, she gets attached. She doesn’t really understand the relationship games of 4th grade- the whimsical, gossipy, girl garbage that happens. The stuff that hurts.
And I worry about the kissing. I brought it up, since she has a history- and suggested that she might want to wait- that she wasn’t old enough to be kissing him. With the logic of an experienced woman, she argued, “But Mommy- I’ve already kissed Tyler and Theo and George and Jack. I liked them and I kissed them. Why can’t I kiss Jason?” And I was stuck in the quandary… How to describe the concept to my 9 year-old daughter who is very logical and very literal that kisses change as you get older? That even though you like someone, you need to use discretion? That there are words for girls who kiss too many boys? That kisses should be withheld for the “right” boy? That she’s too young?
It doesn’t help that James and I are quite affectionate with each other. No Public Displays of Affection- nothing inappropriate at all. But we kiss- a lot. We laugh with each other and we snuggle with each other. We touch each other. We have tried to create a warm, loving environment in our house. And Elizabeth has interpreted that, with perfect logic, as “When you like someone, you kiss them.” And seeing the stars in her eyes last night, it is clear that I can’t tell her that this is not her last love- that she will love others- more, deeper- that love keeps getting better and better as you get older. For her, right now, Jason is IT.
And so, I fell back on that old, useless, Mother-ese, of “Just trust me. You’re not old enough.” And yes, I worry about middle school and hormones. And yes, I worry about high school. I worry about when kisses turn into… more than kisses. I worry about Elizabeth’s complete and whole-hearted love. I worry about heartbreak, and I worry about her reputation. But admist that worry, I watch the glow on my girl’s face, and I smile.
‘Cuz right now, she’s in love.
I do expect a phone call any day from the school, though… sigh.