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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?


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My oldest son, now 11 and a 7th grader, definitely had a crush in preschool. His day depended on Leah being there, and my child who would never describe any of the activities the teacher carefully set up could spend twenty minutes describing the way Leah wore her hair, which bespoke something a little innocently romantic. It was something I recognized as being beyond my control, I could neither have suggested nor discouraged such a crush. He may have had other crushes since then, but nothing so intense, or nothing I was so privy to, but when he's shared details of feelings about girls, I've tried to be careful not to tease nor to suggest, to instead let him share as safely as possible. I think, like my kids' friendships, these things offer me a chance to listen thoughtfully and occasionally ask a question about what they're learning about how to relate to other people, how to treat people and how they want to be treated, what qualities are important to them in friendships. I cross my fingers that when they day comes when my sons are ready for more serious romantic relationships, the practice they have had with these school yards will help them understand that they are looking for things much like what they would look for in friendships.

My daughter (3) most definitely has a crush on my friend's 6th grader. It's adorable. When we go to their house, she sets out to look for him, asks him to play with her, wants to sit next to him at dinner, and the way she looks at him, just just ADORES him. Luckily, he is into it and plays with her and keeps her distracted so I can get a break! It's totally different from her other friendships (or parallel-play-ships) and I can almost hear the Marsha Brady tapes playing in her head (he's so dreamy!). Since I know he is a boy I can trust, I just think it is cute, but I think I'm in for it in a few years!

My daughter came home from her forth day of pre-K yesterday with a story about a little boy who kept asking her all day long to play. She told me, I kept saying, no thank-you, but he kept asking, so then I ignored him, so he tried to throw a rock at us". Ah, young love. She went on to tell me that after that, he started purposely walking into a wall and falling down to make her and her friend laugh.

From my own experience, I can say that I don't believe that school-yard crushes are a result from seeing over-sexed television or print ads. As a child, I was smitten myself by one particular boy. It began in first grade...even then I was drawn to a good sense of humor...so I think it's just a natural part of exsistence. I suppose the over-sexed media can play some part in heightening the curiousity of some, but that innocent attraction is there regardless.

everett has been falling in love since the second day of kindergarten, and I did worry at first about his exposure to media. but then I remembered my own first (that I recall) love, in first grade. by second grade I was competing for affection with my next door neighbor. for christmas sam bought me stickers and dawn a record, evidence i felt of his obvious preference for her. i refused to speak to him for the entire month of january. and *I* was entirely sheltered from media; my parents are very conservative baptists and we only occasionally owned a TV as I was growing up. even in junior high, I got all my exposure to sex from good old fashioned trashy romance novels. anyway...

everett confessed to me a week ago that misha, his first kindergarten love, kissed him during their month together at grout. I asked as casually as possible, "on the cheek?" "yes." phew.

mara has an excellent point about the importance of talking about how their relationships are unfurling, helping them explore their own feelings and doing our best not to show any parental judgment. I've noticed recently that many of everett's most anguished moments come as a result of an interaction (however fleeting) with a little girl about his age. relationships are hard.

My own first experience with love was as a first grader...I was going to marry that boy. Really! My friends and I made a veil and boquets in art class. Too bad I chickened out when it came to the marital kiss! I was too shy to even hold his hand.
Every year it was a new crush! I doubt it had anything to do with media, I don't remember the programs I watched on TV at that time except Sesame Street, The Muppet Show and old reruns of Mickey Mouse Club.

Mine are still babies but I am looking toward that time with bittersweet memories of some of my own crushes.

My DD had a true love once, that lasted from Kindergarten through first grade, when they both left their school to go to other schools. She and the boy were going to get married and have 6 kids. My DD was going to be a veterinarian, but she didn't care what the boy did so long as it did not entail sitting around and drinking beer all day(I honestly haven't a clue where that came from). It would be okay for me to live with them, so long as I helped with the children and cleaned up after myself.

Fast foward to 6th grade--some boy in her class "hit on" her the other day (gave her "the look" and asked for her phone number). She was appalled. She told me she gave him the stink eye and walked away without speaking to him. Phew!

My four year old has a crush on the 8 year old nephew of my new brother-in-law. I suppose it is all about opposites attracting -- she is pale, blonde and blue-eyed, he is a tan hawaiian with dark hair and eyes. When we were visiting and doing all the wedding fun, she ran up to my mom and says "Grandma, i kissed Daylan!"
My mom says, "well what did he do?"
And she replies, "I kissed him on the arm and he didn't even know, then I runned away!" Apparently she has puppy love, but she doesn't want him to know.

Then later we were in the car and she busts out with "Mom, someday Daylan is going to be sad that he didn't kiss me when he got the chance." To that i had to gently explain that she would have plenty of time to worry about boys, and for now, she should enjoy just being a kid. Lord help me.

Keith Veyna. Hubba hubba. He was my first grade love -- my mother finally had to send a note telling the teacher to not let us go off kissing behind the backstop because we kept giving each other colds. Then came Stephen Van Krevelen (2nd and 3rd grade). Then John Mendro (4th). These were very, very serious to me. Sweet to think back on them now.

I think it's a natural part of growing up ... not necessarily a modern phenomena.

Oh, and Nico...WHAT a story...SO sweet.

I think of myself as always being "boy crazy" from about Kindergarten on, and I missed out on some good girl friendships along the way. But my parents, while still married to this day, have always hated each other as far as I knew, my dad objectifying women and trash-talking my mom. I always thought that had something to do with it. So this part of letting my kids grow up and manage their emotions and their friendships is so hard for me! GREAT QUESTION! I was hoping a psychologist would chime in... :)

I had crushes starting in kindergarten. And apparently some of my genetics have rubbed off on my oldest son as well. He just started kindergarten and came home the other day talking about Kylee - who hugs him sometimes. So I asked what he does when Kylee hugs him to which he said that he doesn't do anything...it just makes him happier. And asked if I was happy that Kylee's hugs made him happy. How do you respond to that except to say, "Sure, I'm happy that you're happy." Then the very next day he tells me that Kylee sometimes sings in his ear and smooches him. I just reminded him that he's not supposed to kiss anybody but Mommy and Daddy. So when she kissed him again, he told her to stop kissing him. Too cute.

My daughter came home from pre-school when she was 4 and casually mentioned that she and Zack had gotten married on the playground near the slide that day. "What was that honey?," I said thinking that I had maybe misheard her. She repeated the same thing. There was never a "he's my boyfriend" or "I like him" but "We got married." My DH and I thought this was sort of cute then and that they were just role playing which I still believe. Only strange thing is that they are still in the same class now in 1st grade and they still seem to (she especially) have this infatuation with each other. They are truly good friends and the boy is a great, sweet kid. But this week she said that he kissed her on the hand and then said very quietly that they were in love. Again, I hoped that I was hearing the wrong thing so I asked her to repeat it. Gah. So, we mentioned to their teacher (who missed the kiss) that perhaps she should keep an eye on them and we told our daughter that she wasn't supposed to be kissing anyone at school. I also mentioned to the boy's mom what my daughter had told me and told her I wasn't sure if this was just normal kid stuff or if we needed to sit them down and have a talk. I don't want to give the situation too much attention, but I don't want to ignore it all together. We talk about it and I tell her that Zack is her good friend and that she might marry someone else someday and she gets pretty upset. Yikes. I don't remember having a heartbreak in 1st or 2nd grade but I fear that is what will be next. I guess its all harmless and I'm worrying a bit too much. But I do want her to develop some friendships with girls too and not to focus too much on this boy. Our plan is to plan more play dates with her girl classmates this year.

I had crushes in kindergarten and first grade too, but not a "husband." Its a bit unnerving sometimes. My DH and I are convinced that the "in love" thing is coming from her having watched Disney Princess movies.

These stories have been so sweet to read! And I agree, it's not the media.
My first crush was Steven, in kindergarten - it started on the playground, I adored his twinkling eyes and was impressed by his prowess.
2nd crush was in 1st grade, a neighbor boy named Kyle who could spin a basketball on his finger and said he could spin his house like that too, and I believed him.
My kindergartner had his 1st crush last year with a girl in his preschool, it became obvious the way he talked about her, and one day he came up to my husband in the garage and put his hand on his shoulder and said "Dad..." - my husband felt like this was our kiddo's intro into their first father-son "Big Talk". There was no talk, really, just "dad, there's this girl at preschool..."
It's sweet now! But he's my oldest. I want to enjoy the sweetness while I still can.

My son is only 2, so we haven't had any of this yet, of course, but I have a similar story. My very best friend was a boy in 1st and 2nd grade and we spent LOTS of time together. We kissed, got "married", spent the night at each other's houses, I taught him to roller skate etc. I loved him as my best friend. In second grade he moved and I was completely heartbroken. We even wrote letters and talked on the phone for a while. My mom told me later that his parents were worried that it wasn't healthy, but I think it was one of the best relationships I had as a child.

Wow...Kindergarten seems to be the magic age for most of us.
My first was at church. And it was Love Across a Crowded Room. This was in North Dakota, with no billboards, TV or even other kids with TVs to tell me about it! John Wangsnes. My sisters and I would spend the night at his house when my parents were out of town. I snuck into his room and got caught. (We were just sitting at the window holding hands, too shy to do anything else.) Well, his parents were very conservative, and I was never allowed back.
Then there was Craig Fisher. We were inseparable from 1st through 3rd grade. Then I moved to Portland. We sent poems, candy, letters, and yes, mixed tapes to each other for three years after I moved away.

Just to validate those childhood emotions.... I looked up Craig Fisher as a consenting adult. And the chemistry was so amazing that I almost converted (He's a rich, religious, republican, racist, right-winged, redneck). But... I came to my senses.

Gavin Choy was my first real crush. I was 9. I liked other boys before him but he played jacks with us. Sigh. I told my mom, who honked and waved at him one day. I was mortified.

My daughter has liked boys since preschool. She got the biggest boy to take all the good toys on the playground which they stock piled in one of the playhouses. Every day. She also had a neighbor boyfriend. She's in high school now(weeps) and I hoping the "I like boys until they like me back then I don't like them anymore" thing holds.

My child hood crush was p. mckenz, and he was so dreamy, i met him in the third grade, and all the other elementary school girls use to like him also.i just liked him for 8 yrs until i was 16, after ten yrs old, i didnt go to school with him anymore, bu t i loved him the same, we never really talked until i was 21!im mean really spoke about my feelings towards him, and where friends til this day.

This is an old topic, but I feel compelled to share my own experience...

I had crush on a boy I grew up with from such an early age that I can't remember exactly when it began. He knew my family before I was even born, as he was a few years older than me and he used to play with my older sibling. There is even footage of me running around in diapers while my sibling teases me about my crush on this particular boy.

I'm not sure what my exact feelings for him were at the time, but I certainly remember being drawn to him for his looks. Strange to think one can experience physical attraction at such a young age. We fell out of touch some years ago, but I will run into him around town, occasionally. I have to say-- the "puppy-dog love" feelings come flooding back every time, all these years later.

Ive got the best one! When i was a little kid about the age of 5 me and my best friend were in art class and we both had a huge crush on this boy . Our whole class was playing up so the teacher made us get into pairs the girls had to get pencils then pick a boy naturally we both went for him my friend got to the pencil table first and grabbed the sharpest pencils leaving me with the dodgy ones we both asked him to be our partner he looked at both of us and said "ill pick your friend cause shes got the sharper pencils " i was shattered i ended up sitting with my boy best friend from birth. but just wasnt the same i wasnt angry at my friend or the boy .. its weird how this memory is so vivid , alot of my friends cant remeber anything from childhood but my memorys are alllvery meaningfull anyways im still friends with the boy and the girl. My boyfriend of 3 years was great friends with him throughout high school.. he still doesnt know about my little crush.

I babysit for an 18 month old. I don't know about crushes, but she definitely thought this one person was cute. I was checking the news (online) while she played and one of the articles had a picture of a young man (about 18-20 ?). She walked over, smiled and kind of giggled, and kissed the pic of him on the screen.

My friends and I talked about boys and crushes as early as age 6, and at four my best friends sister had my friend write a letter to a fourteen year old boy for her.

My daughter showed flirtatious tendencies starting as an infant. At three, as she was putting on her Halloween costume for preschool, she asked me, "do think Brandon will like it?". Since then she's had MANY crushes, frequently talked about marriage (in one case, influenced by the 2004 presidential election, she planned on marrying a boy after he grew up and became president), etc.

She's about to turn 13 and has both friends who are boys and boys she has crushes on. Perfectly normal

I'm in 3rd grade and my crush is This boy he said that he has a crush on a girl I asked him who it was and he, replied "don't tell your dad or he'll get mad at me and beat me up." Then he, said "Savannah I just accidentally said it.Don't tell anyone!" Then we smiled and then laughed because we were happy. His name is Devon.My name is Savannah Zubia.

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