The hair bow. Her most requested do lately. The first time she wore her hair like this she told me a lot of kids noticed it... especially Joe.
I don't remember the first time she brought him up, but sometime early in the year PSP developed a crush on a little boy we'll call Joe. She would smile when she talked about him, but not in her usual smile...there was a bit of reserve there. You know, smiling but not too much. She told me she thought Joe was cute. She would tell me when Joe said hi to her, or what their interaction was like on the playground that day. She also told me when Joe would ignore her. When walking home from school she'll survey the grounds trying to see if she can find Joe to wave goodbye. Not often, just sometimes.
None of this really surprised me or worried me. I know that even as a young girl I had my crushes and so it has all felt very relaxed and normal. That being said, I had two main concerns...or points of interest shall we say.
First, when she told me about Joe ignoring her or I think even on one occasion telling her to go away or something... I was surprised by how quickly my protective mom instincts kicked in. A few years ago, the child-less me would have laughed and thought, That's boys for you...get used to it. But the mother in me thought, Who does this boy think he is? Doesn't he realize he has caught the attention of the most beautiful, bright-eyed girl in the entire kindergarten class and he's just ignoring her? And I wanted her to realize that if this was how this Joe kid was going to treat her, well he wasn't worth her time.
I really only thought that for a few minutes before I realized that we're talking about a 6 year old boy who play-fights with pretend nun-chucks during recess. But it got me thinking about high school and college and I suddenly realized how hard it must be for parents to watch their children navigate the dating world and sometimes be undervalued, mistreated, dismissed and broken-hearted. And I even saw myself in some of those situations suddenly wishing I would have cared more for my self-worth than the attention of some pretty unimpressive guys. That is going to be much harder to watch than I previously thought. That's point one.
However, my primary point of interest in all this crushing has just been the fact that she felt comfortable talking to me about boys in the first place. My little girl talked to me about a boy. That she has a crush on. This has felt like a major mom coup. I want so many things in my relationship with my daughters, but especially I want them to feel comfortable talking to me about boys and relationships and feelings... and of course sex. It is delicate, delicate territory. Even as a little girl I know I wasn't comfortable talking to my mom about those things and I'm not sure why. I think there may have been teasing from my family, or even just some comments that made me feel silly and sure enough I decided at an early age that this was something I had to keep to myself.
I'm not so naive to think that just because 6 year old PSP will talk to me about boys, it means that 16 year old PSP will talk to me about boys as well. But I'm really hoping that's the case and I think much of that will be dictated by my behavior and how I handle these things in the early years. So far I've made a valiant effort to talk about it nonchalantly, not making a big deal but not dismissing it either. When she first told me about Joe I wanted to know who he was, so she pointed him out to me in the cafeteria. I told her he was cute. I don't ever tease her about Joe or about boys in general. Sometimes she doesn't talk about Joe for weeks at a time, but every once in a while I'll ask her how he's doing or if she talked to him that day--again just to let her know liking boys is totally normal and good even. I guess my main goal is to make these subjects comfortable, normal and even fun. Yay boys!
Anyone else navigating these tricky waters? What's worked or hasn't worked for you? All kids are different and respond differently, but I'm sure there are some good general rules to keep in mind. Also, did you feel comfortable talking to your parents about the opposite sex and crushes as a kid? Why or why not?