Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Five Year Old's First Crush

Since the nursery days of cribs, diapers, and shared spit on toys, my oldest has been enthralled with one girl. Their friendship wasn't much of a surprise, what with the two of them being the only constants in their age group at church. Three times a week, they played together, her gender and six month age advantage not making any difference. He submissively followed wherever she went.

But six months is a big difference when you're that young. And in our State, six months meant the difference in her starting kindergarten this year and my son staying in four-year-old preschool. Although I've been homeschooling him with the same kindergarten curriculum she has been learning, in her eyes, he's now a baby, one not worthy of her time.

The problem? Somewhere along the way, Wyatt decided he was in love with her. He wanted to marry her. He was going to marry her.

Husband just shook his head with big grin and chuckled at that revelation, muttering something about "not a chance with an older woman" as he walked away.

Since the fall of last year, their Sunday morning encounters have been painfully predictable to this mother/teacher.

Before class, Wyatt would be engrossed in playing with something--a puzzle, toy animals, the play kitchen. I could always tell when she arrived. Wyatt would instantly spring to his feet, a smile on his face. "Hey, ______! Do you want to come play with me?"


Undeterred, he would keep hammering away. "Do you want to play chef? I'll cook for you"

"I said No."

Cold. But clear...if you're not in love, I guess. When he tried to go play with her or sit by her at the table (even moving a chair when one wasn't available), she would shriek, "Wyatt's by me!" Funny, I didn't realize cooties started in kindergarten.

Sometimes she wouldn't bother to acknowledge his presence. As the mother with not much tongue left to bite off over in the corner, I was almost thankful.

From the back of the van one Sunday, Wyatt finally asked, "Why doesn't ____ like me."

I avoided the "she's a girl and you're a boy" conversation and instead stumbled through what he was doing wrong. "Girls don't like to cook lizards or eat panda bears."

"But Amelia does," he shot back.

Sigh. Yes. She did.

The following week, he did try what I had suggested, but to no avail. This time, we weren't out of the parking lot before the therapy session began.

"___ wouldn't play with me! I did what you said and didn't serve her a tiger or throw a beetle at her, or..... But she still wouldn't play with me!"

He was obviously crushed, and so I made it simple--she does not love you. Why do you love her?

"Because she's beautiful," he replied in a matter-of-fact tone more fit for a teenager.

My eyes rolled heavenward. "Well, you need to find someone to love who is beautiful on the outside and the inside."

No. All he cared about was that she was beautiful on the outside. My sage advice was falling on deaf ears...lovestruck ears

That was a few months ago.

We've had a few impromptu discussions since then about what it means for us to be beautiful on the inside, but that's it. Her dismissive attitude must have worked, because he seems to have lost interest, some Sundays not even acknowledging her presence. She doesn't seem to miss his attention, either. In fact, when no one is there,when no one is watching, sometimes, they will even play together as friends for a few brief minutes.

It's good. They're much too young to even begin understanding what love means. But in a way, it's sad, too, how a first crush can come and go with so little notice.

This capacity to love comes from one source--our God who is love in its pure form.

Love cannot be something that can hold our complete attention for days, months, and years only to float away unnoticed like the feathers of a dandelion puff, near invisible in their airy flight.

If it's going to die, it needs to go out fighting, an asteroid burning a bright tear through the atmosphere before crashing to leave behind an eternal imprint in the desert to mark its death.

Image: Wyatt with a plastic ant from his birthday cake. (Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of the live grasshopper he brought in my kitchen last week or the huge bumblebee he "caught" in a peanut butter container on Monday but was too scared to set free "because he'll sting me!")


  1. We all just want to love and be loved. We were made for it. My heart broke for him, when he got a cold shoulder at such a young age. :(

    Just yesterday, a little boy left a heart-shaped necklace in my youngest daughter's locker. It caught me so off guard. Really, this soon? ACK!


    Thanks for linking, Jennifer. You are a terrific storyteller.

  2. Not surprised about the heart necklace, what with your beautiful inside and out daughters.

    This event was a good chance for me to tell my son that he deserved someone who would love him for who he was--pretend-bug-eating and all. :-)