Welcome, Mamma Crew! Today is Kiddos Tuesdays, when I discuss issues related to the kids.
Whoa ho! Was I in for a surprise this Valentine’s Day! Yes, I understand that social media and media, in general, make Valentine’s Day all about having someone special. But my kids are twelve! Twelve and four.
And yes, Bug, my four-year-old boy had no interest in any of Valentine’s Day social expectations beyond caring about his Valentine’s Day party, okay? But… But… But two of my twelve-year-old girls have lost their minds completely! Look, I have no problems with the fact they have crushes — in fact, I know the boys that they have crushes with. I like the boys. And I do think that it’s age-appropriate for them to be having crushes.
But this year, they were big on going extra, and so were their friends. So what is excess? Extra romantic, extra fabulous with their display of affection during Valentine’s Day. I understand that Valentine’s Day at this age starts to take on a new meaning. A more romantic purpose. I get that, okay? But also the problem with this age is that the girls usually get there before the boys do. So my girls are interested in boys that are not that interested in girls. I think they need a couple more years.
Nevertheless, they are the recipients of these girls’ crushes. And it’s not just my girls — it’s all of the girls at the homeschool co-op that we participate it. They all have crushes, and they all were determined to let their crushes know on Valentine’s Day how they felt about them.
So what is a crush, exactly? Well, much to my surprise, I found out that it means different things to each of the girls. For my daughter, Andy, her crush is a boy who enjoys doing the same kinds of things that she enjoys — gaming, cosplaying — all of those things that she’s interested it. It doesn’t mean anything beyond that for her. She doesn’t want to hold hands with the boy. She doesn’t want to kiss the boy. She just wants to like the boy.
For my daughter Dora, things are a little bit more ambiguous. She’s not quite sure what she wants to do with her crush, other than knows that she wants to have a crush because, well, all the other girls have crushes.
And, of course, Emmy, who tends to be one of the more popular girls in the homeschool co-op, she has already had her little boyfriend. And this year, she was interested in having something more wonderful happen. What that more wonderful meant were flowers. She wanted to celebrate with flowers, and she wanted to let him know exactly how she felt about it.
So there was the extra on this Valentine’s Day. Now, one of the things that I asked each of my girls was, “Why is it important for you to make this confession?” They didn’t have a clear answer, other than everyone else was doing it. So they felt it was a rite of passage that they needed to be involved in as well. That incredible pack mentality is already here. Oy! What to do, what to do?!
I tried talking to the girls together, but I soon realized that wasn’t getting me any place. The girls each had their own very individual perspectives about everything, so I have to be able to both meet their needs and address their concerns and growing development individually.
Andy, who was the more determined of the three, to make her confession, was also the one who was most comfortable to talk to. She was very reasonable. She realized, after our conversation, that if she confessed to the boy that she liked, and the boy didn’t want her back, things were going to be awkward. And this is a small co-op. So that means that there are only a few kids, so the potential for awkwardness is heightened by the number of kids there.
So after she thought about it, she realized it just wasn’t worth it. I mean, besides, as she pointed out to me, she’s not planning on marrying this boy. She’s too young! Thank goodness! Reason prevailed! And reason prevailed rather quickly.
Emmy, on the other hand, got in a bit of a scuffle with the boy she was interested in. They didn’t quite see eye to eye regarding where a relationship their age should go. Now I don’t know if you’re experiencing the same thing with your kids, but here in the community that will live in, there is a great desire to label themselves among this age group. And they like to throw out big words that they don’t fully understand, such as being asexual, being polyamorous. And yes, they often claim that they can be polyamorous and asexual at the same time, which, they don’t realize that, that’s wholly contradictory and impossible. Still, hey, the bottom line was that this boy was placing social demands on Emmy, that Emmy quickly realized she was not interested in meeting.
Now, even though reason prevailed here, feelings did not. Yes, Emmy did do the right thing — she distanced herself from the boy emotionally; they do still see each other, but the real problem was that the boy was not in agreement with her. So there was a lot of bickering going on back and forth, and a lot of resentment from the part of the boy. It has led to a lot of unfortunate awkward moments, but then, that’s part of learning to relate to each other on a more intimate level, is it not?
And one of the things that Emmy keeps addressing is that she is not ready for those types of commitment. I love that she’s able to have discussions with both myself and her daddy about her feelings in these types of situations so that we can help her and guide her to make the right decisions based on her age.
Now Dora is another _. One unexpected thing that happened this Valentine’s Day is that we had the opportunity for her to travel back home — or to her first home — and spend time with her biological mother. So we took that opportunity, and because of it, she had distance between herself and her crush.
Now with everything that’s going on, all the visits to family members, and time spent with her other mother, she didn’t have time to focus as much on her crush. And while that was not the intention in sending her on this trip, it was a welcome by-product.
Dora is another of the girls that feel that she should have a crush because, well, the other girls do. And a lot of it has to do with what’s going on in their social circle, of course. They all want to be doing the same thing together. Having never had that pack mentality myself, I sometimes have a difficult time relating. But I do do my best to be understanding and to focus on what’s age-appropriate and meet their needs at that level.
Some of my mom’s friends make statements like, “The problem would be easily solved if you just told them they’re not allowed to like boys.” Hmmm… They might not be allowed to date — I can see how I have some control over that — but how do you control what your child feels? And if you are unwilling or unable to speak to your child about these feelings, how do they develop into confident adults who can have healthy relationships? Isn’t this the perfect time for them to be making mistakes? After all the consequences are minimal — mostly embarrassment and distress. But let’s face it — at this age, they’re embarrassed over everything, so this isn’t much different.
One of the other moms asked me if I was concerned at all about safeguarding their hearts. And I thought, at this age, it’s puppy love — infatuation at a superficial level. Frankly, I worry more about the passion they will feel in a few years where our feelings become so dramatic, and everything that we share with our respective boyfriend or girlfriend becomes a scene from Romeo and Juliet. I certainly remember those years, and frankly, if through divine intervention or a magical genie, I was told that I could go back and relive my teenage years, I wouldn’t take that offer for anything in the world. If I had to come back, I would love to go back in my mind- the to late twenties but anything earlier than that — not!
I remember every feeling was so intense, and every decision felt like it was the end of the world. Of course, at 53, I look back at all of that with… fondness. But I wouldn’t want to relive it. So no, I don’t worry about the girls’ hearts right now. Not really. I do fear that in a couple of years, that will be at the forefront of my mind.
For now, I’m more interested in them being able to have healthy friendships with these boys and not allowing the situation to become so awkward that they lose those friendships — which can be a possibility when boys are shy, and girls are so forward. And mine are very, very ahead! They are independent, strong-minded, and have a very healthy sense of self.
Am I wrong, am I right, in taking this approach? I couldn’t tell you. I do know that I can confidently tell you I am doing the best I can with the knowledge and tools I have; with the experience I have.
I love my children, and I am seeking to do the best by them.