Playground Love

“There’s this girl. She had a white dress on yesterday and today she had on a red dress. When I see her, it just makes me think that girls are pretty,” said my son the second week of kindergarten.

What?! I guess that is starting now.

Luck was on my little Love Bird's side that week because we ran into said-girl at the park. “That’s the girl I told you about,” he whispered to me, pointing discretly to an adorable brunette running in circles around a tree-trunk. He bravely walked right over and introduced himself. (Is it brave? Does he realize there's anything to be afraid of?) The two proceeded to spend a few hours running around together, with a small pack of their siblings and other playground-instant-friends, in the Sunday afternoon sunshine.  It was pretty easy to pick-up on Love Bird's admiration of this girl, we now know is named Emma, as he followed her around and somersaulted next to her.

We heard a lot about Emma that week.

The following week, Love Bird came home talking about Lily. Who's Lily?
Lily sits next to him at Rug Time in his classroom and they had drawn pictures together that afternoon. Sorry Emma, that is pretty tough to compete with. Love Bird and Lily had exchanged drawings at the end of class, so my son came home with a random splay of lines on a paper, with her name across the top, and a small, somewhat discrete heart in the bottom corner.

Love Bird definitely noticed the heart.

We spent the next half hour with him trying to learn how to draw a heart. I must admit, this unfurled into him whining and crying that it was too hard and me yelling at him that he wasn’t listening to me. (Mommy-fail-moment.) When we both calmed down, he said, “I want to do it the easier way; can you show me how to write ‘love?’”

That would be when I realized he didn't just want to learn to draw a heart like her; he wanted to learn to draw one for her. That's inspiration.

Well, instead, he ended up taking the easy way out and reciprocating the love letter to his classmate in a way he knew how: a little tiny her and a little tiny him with the word “love” written above it was quickly produced.

Nothing says love like extra-long arms, missing torsos, and crazy-big eyes.
But then my little Love Bird asked to change his drawing to instead say “I love you” and that, for some unexplainable reason, had crossed a line for me. No. I want him to understand the significance of what love means – not to squander the word on whichever girl draws him a picture that day or wears a pretty dress. (What is pretty to a 5-year old boy, I am not sure.)

I proceed to launch into an entire lecture on the meaning of love and how the word is appropriate for those we know well and care deeply about. (Meanwhile, my attention-monger of a daughter is sitting next to us in my spinning office chair demanding that someone spin her. I am trying to stay focused on this serious conversation with Love Bird and ignore the increasingly indigent shouts of, “Turn! Turn!”) Why don’t I just let him tell her he loves her? That certainly would be easier.

But it would also be a lie. Love is deep and meaningful. It is bigger than a crush. I guess I just want that to be clear from the beginning – and this is very truly the beginning.

I encourage Love Bird to instead compliment what he likes about Lily or how he enjoys her friendship.

“Do you understand?” I ask him.

“Yes, I understand,” he replies. And then, “Can I write ‘I love you’ now?”
Oh well. He'll probably forget to take it to school with him tomorrow anyway.


1 comment:

  1. this cracked me up!! hoping he forgot the picture too!!!