23 August 2010
The Tender, Persistent Heart
Liam fell in love for the first time when he was 3 years old. Her name was Sullivan and she was a classmate in The Yellow Room. She moved away the following year and his heart still hurts a little bit. She'll always be his first.
The following year, he fell in love with Ella in The Green Room. He never played with her. He never talked to her. He just liked to look at her.
In kindergarten, he fell for a scrawny, scrappy tomboy with scabby knees named Lucy M. Lucy M. was an actual friend. They sat next to each other during circle time and played together in the blocks center. But he loved her. And hoped to marry her. He was betrayed by a "friend" who told Lucy M. that Liam had a crush on her...... which was a new vocabulary word for everybody. Their relationship cooled after that. He wanted a commitment; she just wanted to play Nerf guns. In first grade, they only saw each other on the playground and on the bus where he always saved a seat for her - but she never accepted. I don't think he actually offered her a seat, though. I think he saved the seat and then hoped. But she always walked on by. Every day. For the whole school year.
Just recently, from the backseat, Liam looked out the window at the unfamiliar scenery and said, "I'll never see Lucy M. again."
Asking the question in this new place carries extra weight because it means he carried his crush with him across state lines to a new time and place. He wasn't fooled into forgetting her by the drama and intensity of a cross-country roadtrip, a new house, and new friends. I feel heavier this time; I thought his high level of distractability would push this little girl (that he hasn't actually spoken to for over a year) to a distant spot in his memory.
I assured him that he just might see Lucy M. again. I also assured him that he might meet someone here that he would want to marry.
"What do you think she'll look like?" he asked, weakly trying to be hopeful. And he seemed a little perkier after that. As in, "Yes, of course! There will be girls in my class. I like girls." Maybe this hadn't occurred to him before.
I worry about adolescence and his tender, persistent heart. Oy. But this tender heart is also what will make him good at being the new kid. He's not shy about saying "You're hair is shiny." Or "That painting is messy but I still like it."
And I will kick the proverbial ass of any 7 year old who takes his new kid status and his tender heart and colors it with a black crayon. You just watch me.