First Grade Love
Bella jumps into the car and throws herself in her seat with a dramatic sigh. "I miss Alex already. I can't wait for tomorrow!" Even though her dramatic words are slightly ridiculous, the wistful look on her face is real. I recognize the ache in her voice. I remember the same desperate hunger I felt to be with a boy... but I felt like that in high school. And Bella is not in high school. She is seven and she's in love.
I first started hearing about Alex six weeks ago. She started talking about a new friend in her class that was a boy. Her stories quickly shifted to how nice Alex was, how he would bring her the ball in gym class and do other nice things for her and her friends. I started paying attention when Alex became, "the nicest boy in the class." I noticed a slight shift in her tone, a new excitement in her voice. When she told me that she thought Alex liked her more than any of the other girls, my warning flag went up.
Things heated up in preparation for Valentine's Day. Bella made cards for all her classmates, but she made three for Alex. She agonized over whether to put a "Be Mine" or a "True Love" sticker on the front. She was deeply skeptical of my casual response that either one would be fine. "But Mommy," she moaned back, "I want it to be perfect! I want him to love my Valentine."
The Valentine was evidently a hit. Bella came home from school. She was glowing, overflowing with happiness, jumping up and down with excitement. "Alex told me I was his best friend today!" I smiled, relieved by the innocent words. "And we held hands!" My heart skipped a beat. I could no longer pass off this new friendship as platonic. Regardless of how young they were, we were talking about a physical act, touching, holding hands. How long until they were hugging or even kissing?Continued on the next page