Do you remember the first time you fell in love? I do.
I was at primary school and can’t have been more than five or six when I felt my cheeks burning self consciously as J looked across the classroom at me or, when he spoke to me in the playground, my tongue tying itself in knots as I tried to respond with something suitably cool.
J had a sweet, impish little face and a shock of short, thick, golden blonde hair. I loved J best though because he was cool. One of the brightest kids in the class; his parents were hippies relative to mine. His mum drove a battered old Citroen – one of those achingly cool classics that ‘sat’ its haunches on the ground when it parked. I think J was the youngest of four but the kids weren’t the only reason for the big car – they had an enormous soppy St Bernard the size of a bus. I remember going to his birthday party and watching agog as his mum filled the dog’s bowls with a whole family size box of Rice Krispies!
I still like intelligent, charming, blonde men with an impish smile, as well as cool cars and, although we don’t keep one, dogs too. Well, J never got round to declaring his undying love for me (nor I for him) but I remember being heartbroken nonetheless when it dawned on me that there was no reason for our paths to cross after I left to start at my new school in a different town, a few school terms later.
These early memories all came back to me this last week in particular as it transpires that the Little Chap, at the ripe old age of three, has been experiencing his own affairs of the heart with a little girl at his nursery. She’s not the first little girl to attract his attention. He spent most of the time at his baby signing class transfixed by one of three triplets (he could tell them apart, long before I could!) and was always talking about her. This though was different. M was his best girl friend at nursery – in fact, I think hers was the first name he mentioned of all his little chums. He used to tell me “I love M, Mummy”. They are both now in the pre-school class but all is not well, as it transpires M has been somewhat swept off her feet by L, one of the Little Chap’s own boy chums!
We had proper sadness for a couple of days last week and proper outpourings as he told me he’d just wanted to hug M “Because I love her” but she didn’t want him to… Aw! He looked so defeated when he told me that, my heart went out to him – the poor Little Chap!
His key worker told me that he’d said something similar to her. She even checked he knew what he meant by the word love, in case he was parroting something he’d heard. What was his response? “Like I love Mummy and Daddy” (oh bless his heart).
I’m so proud that my little lad is so capable and aware of having such big feelings. He has always been given lots of affection from the moment we knew we were expecting him and he has reciprocated at home with us, with his grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, godparents and more recently, to his little buddies from his various toddler groups. I love that he’s ready to call out “Love you!” to the object of his affection. I love that we can talk about how he feels and that he knows when he feels happy, sad or cross. I have been told “I’m cross with you Mummy, you didn’t *inserts latest maternal transgression*” a few times now (!) and he says things like “I’m sad Mummy, I don’t want to go home, I want to stay with *inserts object of his affection*”.
I think my son knows he won’t always be at his day nursery, where he sees M, because we’ve been trying to prepare him for when he starts his new prep school in September for a while now. He recently went through a phase of asking “In September, when I go to my new school, will *insert child’s name* be there too?” What he probably didn’t anticipate was that Mummy and Daddy would remove him suddenly from his day nursery for totally unrelated reasons (that’s a whole other blog post!) just a week or so after this little love triangle developed. He’s not really had a chance to say goodbye to her or agree to keep in touch. I am a complete failure of a parent, as I hadn’t managed to swap names or numbers with M’s mum yet, only seeing her perhaps alternate weeks at nursery drop off /pick up and we were always in a rush so we barely had a chance to say “Hi”, let alone strike up a conversation. I did try to salvage the situation for him by leaving a little card from him for M. It thanked her for being his friend and shared my mobile in case a play date was something she or her Mummy might consider… It felt like the least I could do to share the whole “waiting to be shunned” scenario with him! I mean, what are the chances…?
In the meantime, I’m sure M won’t be the only special friend the Little Chap has. I hope there will be many more little boys and girls who will fall under his spell, the same way all those who’ve met him so far seem to have done. I know… but I’m his mum, I’m biased. Truth is he’s always been a heart breaker – I just never figured his own little heart would be the first to go…
How old were you when you first “fell in love” or had your heart broken? Has your little one had a similar experience? How did they react? Please do share…
© Mayfair Mum, 2012
What a lovely story, they are so incredibly cute at that age. My eldest (now 9) had a little girlfriend/best friend (an ante-natal friend’s child) from birth and it was only when they both started at separate schools did they grow apart. Children that age very soon find a new *love interest* and being the sweetie he sounds, I’m sure another will be just around the corner. Looking forward to reading post on pulling from nursery.
Thanks. I just hope he doesn’t go through it all again when he starts school in September! Keep you ‘posted’ ha ha on the nursery story
That’s amazing that he’s able to understand and article his feelings so well! It’s also wonderful that you didn’t just brush off his feelings as puppy love and really took him seriously. My toddler doesn’t go to preschool so he doesn’t see kids on a regular basis, but hopefully he’ll be just as enamored of love as yours is 🙂
Thank you for your lovely comments. I’m quite an emotive person so I guess I naturally empathise. I hadn’t really thought about it but I have talked about feelings quite a bit with him. I read How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish – they suggested expressing your understanding of your toddler’s feelings as a great way to alleviate the inevitable tantrums caused by them not knowing what they are feeling or how to handle it. Doesn’t always work mind, but once or twice its been just the ticket. Particularly for the beginning to get overtired tantrums at the end of the day. They suggest that by giving your toddler a hug and saying “I can see you’re feeling sad/cross/frustrated about …”, the child feels understood and supported at a time when they otherwise feel out of control. Also there’s the whole teaching them about what they’re feeling benefit too. I guess the Little Chap is proof that they do pick it up! Definitely a good parenting book to read.
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