Puppy Love: When do childhood crushes begin?
When I was a little girl, I think I had my first childhood crush when I was in kindergarten. I can't remember his name, but I can definitely remember his face. He had freckles, red hair, and a round face. I liked him because he played tag vigorously on the playground. We would tag each other in a weirdly flirtatious way. My second childhood crush was the next year. I remember his name (I think). Brian Lee was a boy I liked because he would play backgammon with me during before-school and after-school care. My "interests" continued on a regular basis for decades afterwards. I remember feeling like my interest in these boys was more than just "friendship". There was definitely a romantic element to all of it; I'm not sure why or how.
When our oldest daughter was in first grade, she had a friend with whom she was very close, cuddly and intimate. Michael was a 5th grader (an older man!), and I would often find them two playing together, just them two, alone at the top of the play structure. When I would ask: "what do you and Michael play?", she would said, "Um, well, we play 'brother-and-sister' and stuff." Hmpft. (Are you sure you aren't really playing 'mommy-and-daddy'?)
When our girl was in second grade, there was a third grader (smaller age difference this time) about whom we heard a lot. I may have heard in passing that so-and-so "liked" our daughter.
Now, our girl is in third grade. I just spent an hour on the playground with 20 second and third graders, supervising school pictures, and I was struck by this energy among the kids, a different sort of playfulness that lends to what I remember as behavior when a kid likes-likes the other. It seemed like that flirtatious charge. From my own experiences of puppy love starting as early as kindergarten, I can believe that even the littlest kids can have a "crush" on another. But when I look at my girls, I think, "They're too young!"
Has puppy love entered your household? Do you hear of the kids coming home with a "crush on 'so-and-so'"? Or, do I have just a bit more time before that all starts? What *is* puppy love, anyway? Is it all stemming from oversexualized images in the media? Or is it a sweet, innocent legitimate attraction between two kids?