I remember my first crush in Kindergarten. I also remember the first and last names of each boy I had crush on in subsequent grades up until middle school when I had THE BIG crush on one boy for like four years. He was the Winnie Cooper of my Wonder Years. I’ve had countless crushes in my life, most of whom never even knew. I suppose that is the gift of the combination of a big imagination and intermittent shots of anxiety to keep you practical.
I know some parents balk at the idea of little grade schoolers having crushes, raising eyebrows and saying how they are way too young for that, etc. But to these parents I ask, do you show your kids Disney movies? Do they relate to the main characters? Because if so, you probably introduced them to the concept of romance a long time ago and it’s really not cool to make them feel ashamed about it now.
One of my littles has had a big crush on a boy in her class for a year and a half. Being pragmatic, she’s discussed at length with me and her sister the pros and cons of letting him know. I listen and nod and it always ends in the mutual conclusion that when considering matters of the heart it’s best to ask, “what’s the worst that could happen?” We’ve been through many scenarios: he doesn’t like you, he laughs at you, he makes fun of you, he tells everyone, etc. And each time we talk about these outcomes it becomes clear that any of those responses would prove him to be unworthy of the crush, rendering said crush null and void.
So the other day after school, she joyfully confessed to me and her sister that she TOLD HIM. I said, “Tell me everything! What did he say? What did you say?” Apparently he said thank you and then confided in her who he has a crush on. Spoiler alert: it’s not her. As she was telling me this, I watched her watching me closely for a reaction; anything to nudge her towards a way to feel about it.
I said it’s pretty great that he respected and trusted her enough to tell her a secret of his own. I saw her consider it. I added I’d rather have a friend I can trust than a crush because crushes come and go. She decided to agree.
Later she regaled our extended family about the whole thing, adding proudly, “I actually told him. So I’m braver than one thousand boys.” She knew she couldn’t control the outcome, but she could control the action. Proud momming moment.
Cut to the other night at bedtime cuddles, she gave a little sigh and said, “I don’t think any boys in my class have a crush on me.”
Mind you, I was exhausted, drifting off to sleep myself and vaguely heard myself mumble, “Babe, boys having crushes on you is like unexpected pie. It’s nice when one just shows up, but it doesn’t make sense to miss it when it’s not there. If you’re always thinking about unexpected pie you’ll always be disappointed.” This is about when I stopped myself from going on along the lines of “pie comes and goes but friendship is forever, there’s plenty of pie in the sea, a pie in the face is worth two in the…” nevermind, you get it. Thankfully we both fell asleep.
The point is, my little girl reminded me that bravery leads to truth, and sometimes the truth isn’t what you hoped. Sometimes you think how lucky you are to get an unexpected pie, but it turns out to be rhubarb and you re-evaluate the whole pie thing in general.
You can’t control the outcome of your life, only your actions.
I will leave you with one of my favorite Jack Handey quotes from when I was a kid, which has turned out to be oddly poignant at this point in my life: