One afternoon recently, Maggie and I were working on her Valentines for her school party next week (or rather, I got her started, then I snuck off to do some work while she wrote out the names on the cards. heh) But eventually I took a break from work and headed back into the dining room to help her with the folding and the stickers.
While we were working, we chatted. This is the best part of having a kid who is almost 6. We can just… TALK. I find us having more regular conversations as opposed to one-sided, demand-laden interactions (“put that down” “stop jumping on the couch” “quit picking your nose” – though, full disclosure, those interactions DO still happen sometimes, obviously.) But having a kid who can have a near-grown-up conversation with you? It’s kind of cool.
As we sat there at the dining room table working, it somehow came up that one of the little girls in her class was her “really good friend”, someone Maggie claims “I tell all my secrets to!” I smiled and asked what kind of secrets she had, exactly.
She grinned shyly and giggled a little bit. “Um… *giggle* like… *giggle* who I have a crush on…!”
UM. I AM SORRY. WHAT, NOW?
But I didn’t let my shock and fear and ZOMG! reaction show. I couldn’t. I knew that this was one of those moments. A moment when everything can change. It SEEMS small and minor to us, but for them? This is when it starts. This is the age where things can change, and we need- *I* especially, as her mother- to be careful to make her comfortable talking to us. About EVERYTHING.
So I took a deep breath and held back every instinct of Being Her Mom and telling her NO CRUSHING NO NO NO NO YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS, CHILD! And instead, I asked her who she had a crush on. I asked her in an excited, silly, breathlessly-curious kind of way, the way a friend would ask.
And she told me.
(I also asked her what she meant by “crush” and she said “it’s someone you’re in love with but don’t want to tell anyone” and OMG MY HEART YOU GUYS. MY BABY.)
The boy is not important. She’s five, after all. But when she’s 15? I want her to want to tell me who that boy is. I want her to want to talk to me about the Stuff in her life- the crushes, the heartbreaks, the first kisses (OMG HOLD ME). I KNOW there will be a time when we’ll both be stewing in Teenager/Mother silence, angry with each other over whatever drama we just had between us. She may even storm off to her room and give me the finger through the wall (NOT THAT I EVER DID THAT TO MY OWN MOTHER. AHEM.) But I want her to always feel like she can share these things with me, talk to me, and I won’t judge (too much) and I’ll give advice if it’s wanted. And yes, I’m her mom first- always. But I also want to be her friend, at least on some level.
It’s a tricky balance, but looking ahead I feel like now? In kindergarten? This is when it starts.