My daughter has a crush on someone, but won’t say who it is.
Instead, she asks me to tell stories about my own crushes when I was her age. I tell her about chasing Mark Stockwell around the playground in First Grade every day at lunch, getting his phone number from his best friend and learning it by heart. And about Ray Ortega, my square dance partner in Fourth Grade gym class who left a small jewelry box and a card on my desk for the last day of school, with a ring inside and earrings.
“What about after you knew you liked girls?” my daughter asks. “Tell me about your crushes then.”
She wants stories and names. “How did they look?” she wants to know. “How did you feel? What did you do?” Girls and boys, both. She just wants to KNOW. I’m dying to know who she likes, too, but I only ask once and she doesn’t say.
She peppers me with questions about middle school and high school crushes. I offer scant details, just enough for her age. I am touched by her curiosity.
Especially after the conversation we had in the grocery store parking lot the other day.
I had just parked the car when she told me for the seven millionth time that her friend had a crush and wouldn’t tell her who the crush was on. That her friend wouldn’t say who it was really bothered her. Hmmmmm… I asked my daughter if it was possible that her friend didn’t have a crush on anyone at all. She assured me that was utter nonsense. She knew there was a crush and her friend just wouldn’t trust her with the name.
I asked, “What if she has a crush on a girl?”
“Then I wouldn’t be her friend,” my daughter replied, right there in the grocery store parking lot.
I spent a lot of time with kids in my pre-parenting days and I’d asked this question many times, but I had always braced myself for their answers. This time, I was speechless. As an “out” lesbian mom, I never expected to have this conversation with my kid.
My daughter has my back. I know she does. She wore a shirt to school last year that said, “I [Heart] My Moms” and not 24 hours ago, she interrupted a song on her favorite radio station while squeezed between two friends in the backseat of my car, declaring, “I hate Justin Bieber! He says mean things about us. I mean… about my… mom.”
But she’s growing up in this culture with a value system that only sometimes jives with mine.
This conversation wasn’t about me. It was about Third Grade. Her and her friends. Her playground, her posse, their games at recess. Trust and loyalty. Doing what her friends think is right and fun and good, following the rules of their latest game.
We were out of the car now and walking at quite a clip, nearing the automatic glass doors.
“Really?” I finally said. “You’re friends with me and I like girls.” I waited for her to react.
“That’s different. We’re close. You’re my mom.”
“I know, but I was a kid once, too, and when I had crushes, I told my friends. Now I’m not saying your friend has a crush on a girl – she probably doesn’t – I honestly have no idea who she has a crush on, or if she has a crush at all – I’m just saying that if you do have a friend someday who tells you she has a crush on a girl, she will need you to keep on being her friend.”
She stopped and really took this in. She wasn’t contrary. She didn’t fight me. She stayed quiet a moment, as I had. Then she began naming various friends who could maybe start liking girls “like that” someday. We imagined together the conversations she might have with these friends, how it might feel to continue the friendships after they told her how they felt. Closer. More trusting.
She even tossed her own name into the mix, as if she might be the one someday who “likes girls like that, like you wanna kiss them.”
It seems unlikely, given her passion for boys – but maybe. It’s too early to know for sure.
What I do know is this:
– She seemed lighter on her feet as we entered the store.
– We bought cereal and applesauce.
– And just like that, we were done – and on to other things.
What I hope is this:
– She will always have a friend she can trust with the name of her crush.
– She will always be a friend her friends can trust.
– We will continue to grapple with things in the open, as we have so far.
– I will learn to accept what is not yet known.
** What do you remember about your first crush? **
Photo discovered at http://www.trainweb.org/kimura/ocfmc/vball/2007/index.html.