My son is all of five years old, and ever since he became a kindergartener, there are two questions that people always ask him:
“How are you liking school?” and “Do you have a girlfriend yet?”
Now, I know the people asking these questions mean no harm. They are just genuinely curious in the first one, and just being fun and funny in the second one, and maybe I’m a little uptight about this(probably). But seriously? He’s five. He’s a kindergartener. He doesn’t need a girlfriend.
Do you know what I was doing when I was five? I had a boyfriend. Seriously. I had a boyfriend in kindergarten. We sat next to each other at story time. I had two (not at the same time!) in first grade. One brought me chocolate.
In sixth grade, I had my first “serious” relationship. It lasted about a year and a half. We hung out, went to the movies, went to dances together… And then he broke up with me in a note and I bawled my eyes out. Getting dumped in seventh grade isn’t fun.
I had another pretty serious relationship throughout most of high school, and yet another very serious relationship in college–one that I thought was going to end in marriage–with plenty of shorter, less interesting relationships in between. And all of them started and ended the same way–with me being too emotionally attached and too invested, and then with me being heartbroken.
And so, by the time I met my husband at the very END of college–I was pretty much an emotional wreck. (We’re just being honest here.)
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not opposed to dating at all. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t be one of those “I kissed dating goodbye” kind of girls. I don’t believe dating is inherently wrong or bad or evil or anything silly like that.
But you know what I WOULD have done? I would have made friends with girls (I’ve only had about 3 close girl friends in my entire life). I would have, I don’t know, had a hobby… played sports, gotten involved in extracurriculars, taken up a cause… anything. Anything other than waste so much time on boys who couldn’t be bothered to waste that same time on me.
*Just for the record, these relationships weren’t even really that physical. I wasn’t going around sleeping with tons of people. I was just getting far too emotionally attached for no good reason.
So fast forward a few years… Now I’m married to an amazing husband and we have two little boys(with one more little one on the way!). It took a few years, but with lots of love and patience and commitment, we’ve finally gotten most of the baggage-related kinks out of our relationship, and we can now love each other and relate to each other as each other–not in light of what past boyfriends and girlfriends did or didn’t do that broke our hearts.
For the first time ever in my life, I’m truly and utterly amazingly HAPPY. Something that never really happened when I was dating random person after random person because I felt like I needed to.
So when people ask my kindergartener “Do you have a girlfriend yet?” I know they don’t mean anything. But the hidden message I hear–that I don’t want my sons to hear is–“Do you have a girlfriend yet? You should. It’s normal and good to always have a girlfriend.” Because, you know what, it’s not. Or, at least, it shouldn’t be. Especially as a kindergartener.
My son is five. And he needs to be five. He needs to play Legos, build forts, color, watch cartoons and eat his vegetables. He needs hugs and kisses before I drop him off at school, and he needs prayers, bedtime stories and hugs and kisses from mommy, daddy and brother every night before he goes to bed. He needs to be a kid. The last thing he needs right now is a girlfriend.
And someday, when it is time for him to have a girlfriend (preferably after he can manage to get his shoes on the right feet every time without help), I’ll be happy for him! But I will let him know:
A girlfriend isn’t the goal. You don’t “need” one and you aren’t going to be any cooler if you have one–no matter what the other guys in the locker room say. (They’re all full of it anyways. Don’t believe them for a minute.) Be cool because YOU’RE cool, not because you have a girlfriend.
Also, understand that relationships in middle school and high school generally come and go. The girl who likes you today will probably like someone else tomorrow. And that’s okay. Don’t hold these relationships too close. Enjoy them, but recognize them for what they are. Don’t get too consumed.
Because someday, you’re going to meet your wife, and she’s going to be AMAZING. You’ll be crazy about her. And you’ll realize that all of these girls could never even begin to compete. Don’t give these girls what belongs to your wife. Yes, it will be fun now, but I promise you, you’ll regret it later.
So the next time you see my son, ask him if he likes school as a new kindergartener, if he’s playing any sports, or if he’s excited about the new baby in mommy’s belly. But please, don’t ask him if he has a girlfriend. He’s five. He doesn’t need one.