As I gaze at this first Christmas photo with this special little boy, I can’t help wondering what his life will be like. He’s quite a little charmer, and I imagine him to be breaking hearts before he even begins to notice girls. I know that neither his father nor his uncle ever spoke about crushes on girls when they were little, but little boys don’t often tell adults about things like that. Their sister did.
I think I was born with a romantic streak. Mom took pictures of me with our next-door-neighbor, Mike, when I was three. He was my first boyfriend. That was the age of innocence when romance was sharing a slide or swinging side-by-side. What would life be like if romance was always like that? When being friends and enjoying one-another’s company was all it was about? Mel and I have begun to seek out times when we can be together and cuddle, shutting out the pressures of the world for a few hours. How precious that time is for us, just being together. Those embers glow a little more brightly when we’re together, holding hands, rubbing tight shoulders, just being there for one another. Romance at its finest.
When I was a little girl of five, I also remember Johnny, who was my boyfriend in kindergarten. He was my protector; when the class bully socked me in the stomach so hard it took my breath away, Johnny told the teacher, and she took care of everything. I remember giving Johnny a chocolate for Valentine’s Day, but he couldn’t take it because his mother wouldn’t let him have sweets. Smart mom. He had red hair and freckles and was sweet and kind.
I earned a reputation as the Mad Kisser in fourth grade. There was this little boy named Willy in my class. I really, really liked him. I wasn’t a stalker, honestly, but one day I don’t know what came over me. He was working on his lessons at his desk in class, and I walked past him, leaned over him, asking how he was doing, patted his cheek, and to my horror and his, I kissed him right smack on the other cheek! The class roared with laughter–including the teacher. Willy turned as red as my step-grandson’s shirt in this picture, and he avoided me in the future. I learned early to live with public humiliation.
Billy was another boy in our fourth grade class. He was desperately in love with me, and he had Down’s Syndrome. In those days we were all placed in the same class, not separated into special needs classes. I learned early to be comfortable with children with special needs, and we had a special teacher who taught us how to accept and love one another for our differences. Well, I learned I couldn’t be too friendly with Billy, or he would cover me with wet kisses, follow me into the girls bathroom, grab me from behind at lunch and never leave me alone. My cousin attended class with me that year, and he spent the year running interference between Billy and me. Young love gone awry. I’m sure Willy thought the same about me. So even a childhood romance can be fraught with disappointments, but what a way to learn!
It seems to me that children are developing at a much younger age than when I was young, and I’m sorry for that. I had a childhood. I had time to experience carefree days and innocent romantic–if sometimes mortifying exchanges–without the complications that raging hormones drag into the picture. Oh, sure, hormone driven romance can be fun, too, but I’ll dwell on those memories another time. Today I’m focusing on childlike romance. Did you have one of those sweet romances as a child? Or maybe a mortifying adventure like mine? Don’t share if you don’t want to, but I would suggest you recall the distant past and enjoy some of those times once again. Ah, the memories…