Love. When you’re lucky enough to find it, there is no feeling quite like it. The slight blush when their name is mentioned. The smile when the thoughts drifts over to thoughts of that special person. The slightly-racing heart. The way a simple text tone brings about a smile that could light up the night sky. There is nothing better than a crush, those early days of falling for someone. Except I am not talking about myself here, I am talking about my 10-year-old daughter. Somewhere along the way, she has become a little boy-crazy, a little hormonal, and I am trying to decide if I should encourage it or lock her in a closet and not let her out until she turns 18.
When she was in preschool, I remember the director calling us in for a meeting because our delicate little angel was chasing the boys around the playground to kiss them. Her boy appreciation began young and has since only developed, apparently, even though I never thought it was a problem and always supported her. We reigned in the playground stalking and talked about admiring from afar. That being friends should always be the basis of any crush, at any age.
As she has grown up the conversation has continued to be open between us about boys. Perhaps it’s been easy to keep the subject approachable since she knows I date, and my rule is I always answer the questions she asks. I was once told that children will always ask just what they need to know, so if she asks a question, I answer that and only that. Since I give her that respect, she gives me the same. She answers my questions about who she likes, what they talk about, when they hang out — we treat each other like open books. Last year, when she wanted to have the boy she liked over for a movie, I let her. They ordered a pizza and camped out in the family room and watched a movie. We had a talk about how at her age there was not to be any hand-holding. No kissing games. But that two friends hanging out watching a movie was a great way to spend time together. I had a friend who did not agree with my decision to let her have a boy “playdate,” but I want her to know that dating is okay. It’s fun. And to learn how to be around members of the opposite sex.
The other day, we were driving home from school. Out of the blue, she asked me about my first kiss. So I told her about it. She then said she wondered who would be hers. It opened up a great conversation about how she needs to wait a few years, about when it does happen that she can talk to me about it. I’ve realized that as much as I don’t want to let her grow up in some ways, that the best thing I can do is embrace it, encourage it, and let her know she can always discuss anything with me. If I create a safe and non-judgmental arena for her now, I hope that as she grows up and curiosity about kissing becomes curiosity about sex, or drinking, or anything else that I shudder to think about, that she’ll feel safe discussing it with me.
So for now I think I’ll avoid locking her in a closet ’til her 18th birthday, but I’ll hold onto it as an option. You know, just in case.