Paige is my third daughter. She is her own person. I know that, I have always known that. You are either going to love her or she is going to MAKE you love her. There is no middle ground with Paige. She is determined and she is loud. Not purposely loud, it just comes naturally. When she was six, as first grade was ending and with summer approaching rapidly with 3 digit weather outside, Paige wore boots. Paige wore boots with shorts and skirts, to the point where I was starting to envision them with her swimsuit when swim team started in June. They were not shorter boots or ankle boots; they were more along the lines of riding boots, ones that come up to your knees. And even if I was able to let go of how ridiculous the boots looked in May with the central valley heat in full blast, there was a smell starting to associate with the boots that the rest of the house was not very happy about(and quite honestly the first grade class was probably a little disturbed as well). At the last minute, right before it was time to put on swimsuits and head to swim team practice, she stopped wearing the boots. Relief!
In first grade she was “in love.” She announced it over dinner one night rather casually. “Well, I am in love.” Her older sister, ever practical to Paige’s ever whimsical, responded, “You are not in love, you can’t be in love, you are only seven, that is ridiculous. Maybe you like him, but you are not in love.” Paige smiled, confident, always sure of herself and restated, “No, I am in love.” She didn’t talk about it any more for awhile, but when asked about her day she would smile slyly and tell you it was great.
Then one day she whispers to me, “I almost told him today.” Distracted, I ask clarifying questions because I don’t know what she is talking about, I have forgotten she is in love. “I almost told him about the love.” I think before I speak, but finally ask, “What do you think he would have done?” She replies confidently with a big smile, “Well, I’m pretty sure he would have run away!”
Soon she announces, still confident and happy, “Today I found out. He doesn’t like me. He will just have to be my boyfriend.” I explain that it is a two way street, and that if he is not interested he cannot be her boyfriend. She looks at me, as though I was crazy, and says, “I know he doesn’t like me, so I won’t be his girlfriend, he will just be my boyfriend.” I try to explain again that he may not like this idea and I also try to throw in that boyfriend and girlfriend relationships are not appropriate for elementary school, but she doesn’t listen. I am happy for her self confidence and in difference to the fact that he does not like her. She is undaunted. She will go on to “love” this boy for the rest of first grade and on into second.
Midway through second grade Paige arrives home with a necklace with her name on it, given to her by the “in love” boy. There is a convoluted story surrounding the gift…something about a prize at a fair he attended…she is pleased, you can tell. The necklace is worn several times and then tucked into a box. Not long after she announces that she is not “in love” and that she will not be “in love” for awhile, that she is “taking time for herself.” And that is where we stand today several years later. The love is over, she is happy working on herself and I am impressed that she is able to express and participate in a concept that I did not get a handle on until well into my twenties.
She is not the only child to experience “love.” Love came to our house in a more serious form later when our eighth grader started getting attention from boys. This happened because she grew about two feet and went from regular 7th grade girl to 8th grade super model over night. We arrived at a friend’s party not to long ago with our four children in tow and a friend we hadn’t seen in awhile said, “I see you brought your nanny.” I was perplexed. Nanny? On a good day I am lucky to afford a babysitter for two hours. I realized he was talking about our oldest daughter and he didn’t recognize her.
She liked the boy for a long time, and then he liked her. And then she asked us if she could “go out” with him if he asked. My husband said, “NO!” I told him that she was asking, which meant we were involved. If he threw down with the NO!, next time there would be no asking. We said yes.
It lasted most of 8th grade. He was a good kid. We live in a small town, people knew him even though we didn’t and every time someone would hear the name they would say, “OH, he is such a GREAT kid” I tried to take it at face value and not picture an Eddie Haskell type situation(I realize I am dating myself with the Eddie reference).
There was a Christmas gift, a Valentine’s gift, flowers on her birthday, and two group trips to the movies. The second group trip involved her little sister and father picking her up and coming into the movie theatre. She was mortified, mostly about her father’s outfit of old jeans, a football jersey, and a baseball hat that had seen better days and also that her sister ran up to her and gave her a hug. Finally, there was the break-up. It was a polite, somewhat mutual parting of the ways that was quite honestly handled much more maturely then some of my college day break-ups (and by some, I mean all). In the end the only one who was disappointed about the breakup was my husband.
“I thought you were totally against the whole thing, why are you upset?” He went on to say that in the end this kid had been pretty easy to handle. Rumor had it he was too nervous to hold her hand in the movies, he had this great family and was really quite nice all the way around. So he didn’t even get to enjoy the break up because he was already onto worrying about what came next. High school boys are next…he should worry.