H is embroiled in his first love triangle.
You think I’m kidding? Check out the angst-ridden back story.
Flashback to last Friday night. The boys have been in daycare all day. It’s a temporary arrangement while their nanny is on maternity leave, and for all of their complaining, I think they secretly love it there. They never want to leave, they come home exhausted, they’ve made a handful of new friends and…
“I think I wike a girl, Mama,” H says quietly.
“Oh really?” I say. I’m not shocked; he said the same thing earlier in the week, but until now, he’s been light on the details.
“Is it someone at preschool?” I ask.
“No. She’s at my daycare. She won’t tell me her name.”
“Well H, honey, maybe she’s just shy…”
“Nah, she’s not shy. I don’t get it. At preschool, I get the girls to wike me by making funny faces ‘til they waff. But this girl doesn’t wike that at all.” He pauses thoughtfully. “I should try to be nice to her.”
“Good. And to C, too…” (“C?” you say. “Who’s C?” …In due time!)
He rolls his eyes at me.
“Have you asked your teachers to tell you her name?”
“I don’t want to. They scare me.”
“Maybe your friends know.”
One of two things is happening here. Either this girl is H’s imaginary sweetheart, or she’s wise beyond her years. For the sake of this post, let’s say she is real. Her aloof, noncommittal approach totally gives her the upper hand! It’s the cruelest strategy there is, and it almost always works. I want to tell H to move on. I want to tell him he’s too smart to fall prey to petty mind games. But I don’t. I don’t! BECAUSE HE’S FIVE. And I’m not about to dispense love advice to a preschooler.
Especially not to one who is still my baby.
Who am I kidding. H’s no stranger to The Blow Off. He has already perfected his own version. Exhibit A:
It’s last Friday morning. As I walk H and O to their daycare classroom, two small, pretty faces appear in the doorway. The first one whispers, “There he is!” and the second one giggles quickly. Suddenly, the first little girl stands before us.
“Well, hello” I say. “What’s your name, sweetie?” She tilts her head archly, and says, “I’m C!” Then she tosses her ponytail and looks at H. “Did you guys get haircuts?” she asks. “You look so handsome!” When she takes a step forward, my boys step back.
So this is C. H has complained about her all week. She wants to sit by him at lunch. And circle time. And on the playground. She won’t leave him alone.
Me? Well, obviously, I’m smitten. C is adorable. She’s what I’d want my own little girl to be: sassy and bold and not at all intimidated. Meanwhile, H isn’t so easily charmed. He regards her coolly, then grabs O’s hand and turns away.
C’s little face drops. Her tiny heart is on her pretty, ruffled sleeve, and that prompts my own heart-on-sleeve self to butterfly stitch and bandage her hurt feelings. I want to tell her she’s going about this all wrong, because—Rule #1—smothering never, ever, ever, EVer works. I don’t say so BECAUSE SHE’S FIVE. Because she’s somebody else’s daughter. Because I have a son I need to lecture later on.
It’s Wednesday. I’m standing in the kitchen with my brother, S. He’s leaning against my countertops while his soon-to-be ex-wife is at home, packing up her things and moving out. The split has been “amicable.” They signed their papers in the quietest manner, and S won’t say a word against her. He says he understands now that they aren’t right for each other. He has stores of strength I didn’t know he had.
S slides two packs of Star Wars stickers across the countertop and into the hands of two eager little boys. “These are from Aunt R,” he says. “She saw them and knew you guys would like them.”
O peels the Anakin Skywalker sticker off its backing and slaps it triumphantly across the front of his shirt. H studies S’s face. “How’d she mail these from so far away, Uncle S?” he asks.
“She hasn’t left yet, buddy. She’s leaving next week.” S answers calmly.
“Will you be sad?” H asks.
“Yes. I think I’ll be very sad.”
My heart squeezes tightly with sympathy. When I look at my brother, he doesn’t look back.
I want to explain to H that sometimes love just doesn’t work out, even when you give it everything you have. Sometimes you need to let go because it’s best for both of you. It hurts, but maybe it doesn’t have to be awful. You have free license to start over. Start fresh. Dream big, then dream bigger, and in the end, just be proud of who you are.
As proud as I am of my brother.
And so I do explain it. Or at least I try. Because H is five. He’s only five, after all.
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