Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Kinder-Crush



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?  


11 comments:

  1. I remember not being able to talk to my mom about anything. Too uncomfortable! I didn't want that between my daughter and me. When she was young, no problem, I made a point to talk and listen about everything openly and regard her concerns with respect, no matter how silly they seemed. As she got older (pre-teen) I think she, like lots of kids, became a little embarrassed talking about things that might be more private. I started going into her room to talk after lights were out. It was easier to share sensitive things when you can't see the other person's reaction and they can't see you blush, see your tears. I spent lots of long nights sitting on the floor next to her bed, total darkness, discussing friends, boys, sex(!) and her future. There was a sacredness in sharing in the dark like that. A few years later, I did the same with my son. Him pouring out his soul, something I'm sure he wouldn't have been able to do face to face in the light of day. Some things were painful for me to hear, but I hope I took a burden from them by listening. Sorry this is so long, but it brought back such poignant memories for me. Both kids are adults now and both still share freely with me. Such a blessing.

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    1. Oh Arlene, I love that! What a great idea! And what a wonderful mom...no wonder you kids adore you.

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  2. I'm not there yet with my daughter (she's 3) but man I hope she feels comfortable enough to talk to me about her first crush!

    My son is in the 2nd grade, and he's pretty popular among his classmates. Of course, that has me wondering if he has any admirers and, more importantly, wondering if there's anything I can do to make sure he's always nice to them. But when I directly ask him, he completely shuts down.

    I make an effort now to take him alone with me on errands, and we always stop for ice cream, where I casually ask how school is, and how his friends are. There usually follows about 30 minutes of him listing all of his friends' favorite video game characters, but sometimes, SOMETIMES, I'll get a little nugget of information that is total mom-gold, something like "Oh, Susie Q said she liked my shirt the other day..." and even though I'm doing mental backflips, I try to stay cool, like "Oh, really...?"

    Never, ever talked to my parents about boys growing up. My mom and dad did a really good job of laying the shame on thick when it came to the opposite sex, and particularly the opposite sex. They both regret it now, and no grudges are held, but I promised myself long ago that I would be as open and non-judgmental as humanly possible with my kids re: crushes, sex, etc.

    Good subject again, Miggy. You're on a blogging roll!!

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    1. haha--thanks Andrea. Sometimes the blogging just flows...

      Isn't it great when we can learn from our own up bringing and not just in a knee-jerk 'well you guys super screwed it up so I'm going to do the exact opposite of everything you did" sort of way, but in a really insightful, lets see if we can do this better sort of way? Here's to us trying to forge a different path. Good luck to us both. :)

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  3. You probably don't realize this, but you taught me this concept years ago in a conversation we had when W was little. I remember you telling me that you thought it was good to have these conversations when they were young, so it wasn't awkward when they got older....thank goodness you told me that because talking to W about boys now is easy :) I also love the idea from another commenter about talking to kids in the dark, after they're in bed. I'm not to that stage yet, but I already know I'll need major help with teenagers (taking care of babies and toddlers sounds so much easier to me!) so any advice I can get now, I soak it up. I'm glad you posted this!

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  4. My 12 yo daughter still talks to me about boys. She was "asked out" by a boy this year (in 7th grade...) and wanted my advice about it. We have a "no dating until high school" rule in our house which actually is a great thing to relieve my kids of the pressure to participate in middle school dating (it is rampant....). She wanted to let me know she was asked out (she felt flattered) but also wanted validation that not being interested in dating at age 12 was OK (aside from it being prohibited in our family, she is just not interested in dating.....)since there is a lot of pressure among kids at her school to date someone. She also wanted to vent a bit about the pressure. I hope we always have open communication like this.

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  5. I think the book, "How to Talk to Your Child About Sex," by Linda and Richard Eyre is really good.(I follow their daughter Shawni's blog at 71toes.com) It gives great discussion prompts starting when they are super young and then advises that the BIG talk happens around 8 when they will understand butare still young enough to be comfortable, curious and excited about being given new imformation and responsibilities. If you are open and comfortable talking about sensitive subjects when they are little the same openess will be there when they are older. I really recommend the book and wish I would have read it when my kids were a little bit younger.

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  6. Elliesee10:23 PM

    How is the bow made?? I was pretty indifferent to boys until I turned 15, so I expect a little bit of the same thing from my girls, but I would be honored to receive their confidences.

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  7. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story. I have a very similar story about my 7 year old son...he now has a fiance:-) At 7. Like yourself, I try not to ask too many questions or seem too interested in the "fiance", but sometimes I too cannot help but ask. I love the idea of talking in the dark. I honestly hadn't thought too far ahead to my boy sharing with me in the future so I am so glad you brought this up. I will work a little harder now at keeping the conversations flowing-which hasn't been a problem...yet. My story is here if you want to read about "the proposal" and how we have tried to let the 7 year old know he can't really get married until he is 18, but yet keep it all light and fluffy.
    http://www.onein1hundred.blogspot.com/2013/02/a-different-kind-of-broken-heart.html Thanks again for sharing!

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  8. My mother and I are very close. I think that's just what usually happens when it's just the two of you in the house (I'm an only child and my father is, well, about as far removed from the picture as an individual can get). Because of this, she made it clear that I could share anything with her, just as she had shared with me. I'd been told how many men she had slept with, had her first time story recounted to me, and of course, been informed of the general birds and the bees things. There was never this barrier where I felt like I couldn't share with my mom. Personally, though, I became interested in boys very early (age 4). It's the romantic soul in me. When I was in pre-school, I had my first boyfriend, and we loved to play out how our lives would be when we got married (very stereotypical 1950's household-style, mind you. I spent my days in the play-kitchen, he wore his father's tie and went to "work" at the "railroad", which was the Thomas the Tank Engine set). However, even at that young age, I didn't want to discuss my romance with my mother. Maybe there was something exciting about having a secret when it came to liking, even loving, someone. But I don't know if that's honestly the reason I don't feel comfortable talking to her about these things. Regardless, I have kept up the secretive ways. I am almost 18, and my mother hasn't a clue as to all of the boys who I have fallen for (and in turn, had my heart broken almost immediately by), nor does she know about the sexual extent to which I have gone with boys... If she did, I know that she wouldn't be happy. I never told my mother about my first, awkward sexual act, on a Holiday Inn couch when I was 15 with a boy with severe bipolar disorder who wouldn't even remember come morning what we had done together. I know I could have told her about the situation, cried into her chest about how one minute he said he loved me when our hands were on each other, and come the following afternoon he couldn't remember what we had done together, but I did so vividly. I guess part of me knew she would be ashamed of what I had done with that boy, that boy she felt was sick and beneath me. I could have told my mother about how when she finally allowed me to have my first night away from home for a sleepover, (at the age of 16), I spent the time having raunchy phone-sex with my best friend's brother, while planning the lose of our virtues to each other, and that's the real reason I spent so many months pining for him.. But again, I knew my mother would be ashamed. She would be ashamed because my mother was an angel of a child, and everyone can attest to it. I'm not a wild child, but I do have a free spirit side of me that comes out from time to time. It makes it difficult for me to do anything wrong (whether it be in the romance department or otherwise) and tell my mother about it without feeling like I let her down because she was so perfect. It's also hard to tell your mother, who sees you as perfect in her eyes, that you are interested in someone who you know she won't think is good enough for you.

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  9. So in other words, to wrap all of this up (because it's far too long...), sometimes children aren't going to share things with you because they like having their secrets. Sometimes they just want to keep it to themselves. They may not want to disappoint you with their bad choices, or their sense of adventure, especially if they don't think you've made the same mistakes. I don't know if that's a good thing. Maybe because I am 18, I still have the feeling that I don't want my mother informed about my love life, but I know that'll change. So you should try to keep close conversations with your kids, especially when it comes to matters of the heart. Don't let them get so absorbed in stupid people that they feel broken down because it's not going to matter a year after the fact... I was never really told that, or at least it wasn't stressed. But please, don't smother them. I think I was a bit smothered, which made me want to keep more secrets...

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