Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Drowning in Puppy Love

Today, in my 5th-6th grade music class, I had to break up a hand-holding love-fest with my teacher/mom "this-evil-stare-will-only-last-so-long-before-I-break-down-and-kill-you” glare. Truth be told, the two kids are two of the cutest, sweetest kids I’ve ever seen, and I think it is absolutely adorable that they are having a little lovey-dovey cutesy crush-fest. However, my music class is not the place for it, even if it’s on a day we’re watching a movie.

After school, I went on to my regular job (bookkeeping for my dad’s office) and went about my day. Until around 6:30 pm, that is, when it occurred to me that my oldest son is now in 4th grade, and will be in the 5th-6th grade class next year. Within the next two years, my son may be celebrating his own lovey-dovey cutesy crush-fest. The mere thought made my heart race and my breath get wheezy. My baby, who I didn’t get to bring home from the hospital for two months, who I nursed back to health for over a year, and who was the light of my life during the time when I didn’t know if I’d ever find anyone to love... holding hands, with a girl. A GIRL, for crying out loud!! Lovey-dovey!! My baby!!

Sheesh, I’m getting old. Those of you reading this over the age of 20-- do you remember the first time you held hands with someone? Your first kiss?Do you remember how absolutely whacked out your first few “relationships” were? My first kiss was a neighborhood boy named Michael. I was 12; he was 15. His sister, Stephanie, was one of my good friends. And I had the BIGGEST crush... on his best friend, Jason. Every time I’d go over to Stephanie’s for a sleepover, my mom would freak: “You stay away from that Michael boy.” As if I actually liked him anyway. Even when he stood on my front porch with the world’s largest stuffed animal for hours, begging for me to come out and talk-- to rethink dumping him-- I just wasn’t interested. Even when he wouldn’t leave my porch, and my next door neighbor, Donna, called to see if I knew “that guy on the porch,” I wasn’t interested. He did exactly what I had hoped he would-- opened a door into greener pastures. And when I kissed the second guy I ever kissed, it was Jason. Mission accomplished.

Then there was Brian. His dad owned a bunch of local A & P grocery stores, and he was working as a cashier “to learn the value of a dollar,” something all rich dads try to impress upon their kids, I guess. “Hello, is this Christy? This is going to sound crazy, but I was the cashier at the A & P when you went shopping with your mom today, and I heard her say your name and got your phone number off of her check-- so, um, do you want to go out sometime?” I was 15 and a total nerd at my own school-- far too geeky, gangly, freckly, brainy, and self-deprecating to be of use to anyone-- and Brian went to another school in town. After several months of flowers, candies, teddy bears, nice dinners, gentlemanly behavior, and scooting around town in his little white convertible, I had had it with cutesy-cute nice guys. “I can’t go out with you today-- I’m, uh..., sick. Yeah, sick. The flu. It’s bad. Sorry!” Thirty minutes later, Brian was at my home, loaded down like a pack mule with get well cards, flowers, balloons, and teddy bears. I think my mother was more in love with him than I was.

It isn’t that I was some kind of heartless vixen. Truth be told, I was probably one of the biggest nerds in the school. I was one of those lonely kids in the gifted program who didn’t fit in with the preppy rich honors students, and wasn’t creative enough to fit in with the artistic honors students. I didn’t play the guitar or piano, couldn’t draw worth a crap, and my parents wouldn’t let me dress all “morbid-kid-listening-to-the-Pixies” like I wanted to. I’d feel poetry so deeply, but somehow when I went to put it onto paper, it sounded so.... so.... so high school. Trite, contrived, and appallingly boring. I had an artist’s soul and no real medium. So, I stuck with what I could do, and filled my time with band, math team, academic team, French club, and a variety of other school activities that didn’t require good looks, money, or profound talent. And I definitely avoided boys. I simply didn’t know what to do with them at that point. I’ve been married for almost six years, and I still sometimes wonder if I know what to do with them.

Given the form my early college relationships took, I guess that by contrast my first few relationships look pretty tame and desirable, even with their superficial intensity and lack of understanding of what real relation-ship entails. And I guess on some level, there are lessons learned in those first few relationships, but what kinds of lessons? Sure, you learn a bit about how to communicate, how to make someone feel special, loyalty, and romance. But you also learn a lot about how not to communicate, how to break someone’s heart, violations of trust, and anger. You manipulate, fib, test boundaries, violate boundaries, play with emotions, and walk the edge of pseudo-intimacy, all the while thinking it’s real. Older people tell you it isn’t real and to treat it as ephemeral, and you think they’re so old and stupid-- they just don’t get how it feels to really like someone. When you’re that age, you have no idea how well they really do get it. I’m 30, and I think I get it (at least as well as a 30 year old can). I get that playing in-love is cute and fun, and I get that it puts kids into situations that can snowball into situations they aren’t ready to face. I get that it can teach valuable relational skills, and I get that (unreigned by caution) it can teach patterns of self-destruction that take a lifetime to unlearn. And I definitely get that my son, followed shortly by my daughter and my other son, are not far from dipping their toes into the waters of intimacy with the opposite sex.

And I guess that’s okay. Toe-dipping, touching the water to test the temperature, letting it run through your fingers a bit.... That’s all okay. But I hope that’s all they do until they’ve given themselves time to grow up a bit. The love boat doesn’t come stocked with life preservers, and it’s far too easy to get in over your head. Relationships between adults are tricky enough; there’s no need rushing into that trickiness.

I hope my two little classroom lovebirds are crazy about each other. I hope they bring each other lots of happiness for however long they’re together. I hope they enjoy how delightful a pure, friendship-oriented crush can be. And I hope beyond all hopes that they keep it nice and simple for now, avoiding the teenage melodrama that somehow often finds a way to creep in and destroy something innocent and healthy. One day, there will be a time for something more. But for now, they have childhood to finish. There will be plenty of time for a nice swim.... later.

1 comment:

Quentin Ergane said...


And thank the Goddess.


Ya gotta let em grow up sometime, right?

.... I can't believe he is that old now! The older I get the more I understand when they (you know... they..) would say, "They grow so fast!"