Why I’ll Totally Let My 5-Year-Old Go On A ‘Date’ For Valentine’s Day

little kids in loveI 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.

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  • TheLily

    I “dated” a boy for three years when I was in elementary school. I barely even remember talking most of the time. We saw each other a lot, but we had different friends and different interests. My mom did make a big deal out of it, so I lied to her. I ended up a serial dater in middle and high school. It wasn’t that big a deal with the first boy though. We were in “love” but never even spoke to eachother!

  • CG

    I “dated” the same boy for most of elementary school, and for the most part it was great. I was extremely shy and he would help me in social situations, not to mention stick up for me if I was being bullied. He was really just my best friend who I planned to marry, which is actually a pretty healthy way of viewing marriage. The boy in question is now engaged “for real” and I’m so happy for him, despite teasing I still endure from family members (our parents were totally cool about the whole thing).

    • LindsayCross

      While Shawn and I never kept in contact, Kasey and I were best friends all through high school. He is really just an amazing guy. And we still laugh about our childhood escapades.

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  • C.J.

    When my older daughter was three she was the flower girl in a wedding. My godson was the ring bearer. Her little dress matched the bride’s dress and he had a little tux. For a while my daughter thought her and my godson got married too.

  • Nat

    I got “married” twice in kindergarden. Pizza and movie dates and ring pop proposals and holding hands at the jungle gym altar with our toy rings. It’s very cute and my parents thought it was adorable.

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  • Buffy

    Isn’t this just normal?
    I don’t see the big deal… Even in kindergarten I had a “boyfriend” and we kissed good bye every day. In school I had to chose which boy would be the happy one to bring me home and carry my bag… Isn’t this the way it’s always been?
    Puppy love is sooo sweet! :-)

  • Alfreda Wells Morrissey

    My daughter had a boyfriend for two years in kindergarten and grade 1. They hugged a lot and declared their love for each other and marriage plans. Then it fizzled as he went off to play with the boys and she is obsessed with a female friend now. I tried to back off and let her do her thing, so when she has a real boyfriend she will know I am open and accepting. I tried not to giggle or condescend, just arranged playdates and said hi to the boy when I picked her up. I think it is a normal part of growing up.

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