I was five years old, standing at the top of my staircase in a fluorescent purple, over-sized t-shirt and stirrup leggings. My hair was crimped and in a high side-pony. As I walked down the stairs, I felt like any princess in a movie, descending to meet Prince Charming and ride away to a ball in a magical carriage. My Prince Charming was a kindergarten classmate named Shawn. Our carriage was his mother’s mini-van. And our ball was Pizza Hut and a movie. I believe, the movie was Fievel Goes West.
Yup, when I was a little girl, my mother let me go on a “date.” I felt like the coolest, most awesome kindergartner to ever set foot in Mrs. Klee’s class. I told my mom that Shawn was my boyfriend and that we were going to get married one day. His mom let him buy me a super cheap, toy store necklace that I wore for months. We felt so wonderfully grown-up.
And how did my parents feel about the whole thing? Well, according to them, it was beyond hysterical. They didn’t encourage these children in love, but they didn’t immediately try to shut it down either. (I somehow remember feeling like they disapproved. My mother says I’m making it up to seem more romantic.) They rolled their eyes and chuckled when I wasn’t paying attention, letting my young romance flame out, as they tend to. A couple months later, I was holding hands under the table with Kasey. Then I decided to take a break from boys completely. I was so very mature.
A few months ago, I learned that my daughter, Brenna, had become the “class girlfriend.” She had a faithful group of little boys who fought over who got to sit next to her during reading time or push her in a swing on the playground. When I first heard about all of the kiddie romance going on, I was more than a little freaked out!
Then, I talked to my mom about my own childhood crushes and relationships. I talked to my daughter about making sure that we’re nice to everyone and that we still keep our hands to ourselves. And honestly, I took a few deep breaths and realized that overreacting about the situation was pretty useless. The more I thought about it, the more my own mother’s tactics made sense. (Why is that always the case?) Step back. Let my little girl have her make-believe.
So when a phone call came from the mother of a little boy on my daughter’s bus, a boy who had recently been stealing his mother’s diamond rings to give to my darling girl, I decided that the best course of action was to play it cool. Obviously, Brenna couldn’t accept jewelry from her classmates. There’s no telling which mom would be missing a tennis bracelet because my daughter smiled and held hands with a kid on the playground. We talked about how jewelry was expensive and we couldn’t accept expensive gifts at school.