Oh boy. Yesterday was loads of fun in other ways besides the puppy [who appears to be completely recovered and then some].
My seven year old daughter.
She’s had a crush on an older boy named Peyton for almost a year now. When she first told us, she said she liked him because he had hair like Peter Pan [the live version from 2003]. We had a conversation about how you really shouldn’t base whether you like someone or not because of the way they look, but look at the way they treat others.
She understood, but Peyton is a really sweet kid, so she didn’t have to try to stop [thank God, we all know how freaking hard it is to stop liking someone after you’ve started. At least with crushes].
So for the past year, she’s followed poor Peyton around, sat beside him every chance she got, stared lovingly at him with puppy-dog eyes, and generally made an nuisance of herself. Several times, she’s said, “Mom, Peyton doesn’t sound excited to talk to me like he does with the other kids.” Oh God! That is SO hard to deal with.
How do you tell your kid [who you love more than life] “Well, hon, it’s because you bug him by being all over him all the time.” Without sounding like that? We tried to tell her the truth without hurting her feelings, and gently encouraged her not to tell him that she ‘liked him.’ I don’t know if that was the right thing or not, but that kind of thing was never even an option for me, because I was too shy and afraid of rejection to ever tell anyone [but I did the puppy dog thing, and hadn’t realized how painfully obvious it was to anyone with eyes until I saw it as an adult!]
I just didn’t want her to get her feelings hurt by rejection at seven. And we did make sure that we told her it might embarrass him, and that might make him say things that weren’t very nice.
So yesterday during lunch, Shaya says, “Mom, Simon* followed me around in church all day today. He kept sitting by me, and, well, it was really bugging me.” She paused, and got this look of embarrassed understanding on her face and said, “Now I understand how Peyton feels.”
Oh my gosh! We laughed so hard, and so did she. She was a little sheepish, but she finally got why Peyton was less than enthusiastic when she followed him around.
Last night after Bible study [Simon was there] Shaya says, “Mom, I need to tell you something in private when we get home.” We’ve had problems with Simon being inappropriate with Shaya before, and we’ve had talks about, no one touches you where your bathing suit would cover, and if they do, you come and tell us, etc.
Last night, there were reports that Simon and Shaya were trying to go into the closet, under the bed, and I caught Simon closing the bedroom door [big fat no-no], and then I caught Shaya and Simon under the covers on the top bunk. Luckily my son and his friend were rolling around on top of them squishing the life out of them, so nothing happened.
Simon said, “We were just playing.” Grr. Momma bear wanted to rip his little head off, but I refrained [it’s tacky to kill your friends’ son.]
“Absolutely not. You do not get under the covers for any reason, do you understand me?!”
Silent nod from Simon, grateful look from Shaya.
So I figured when we got home, I’d end up hearing something I didn’t really want to. We put the other two kids to bed, and then we sat on the couch while Shaya told us her story.
“Mom, Simon told me he really liked me and asked me if I liked him.”
“What did you say?”
“I said ‘yes,’ but then he told me he loved me. He really, really loved me and asked me if I loved him, too, and I couldn’t say ‘no’ because I didn’t want to hurt his feelings so I said ‘yes.’
“Do you love him?”
“No.” We talked about how she can’t really lie to someone to keep from hurting their feelings in things like this. We suggested some ‘let him down easy’ speeches [Holy Shit! I can’t believe we had to tell her this crap already!] Like, “Simon, I like you, but I don’t really know you well enough to love you,” or “I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but I just like you as a friend.”
“Do you like him?”
“Well, yeah, I think he’s nice. But I didn’t know what to do when he said he loved me.”
Deep breaths, Shelbi. The whole time we’re talking to Shaya, we’re passing looks back and forth, thinking, what the hell do we do now?! Then she said, “And after he told me he loved me, he told me not to tell anybody, not even you, but I didn’t want to not tell you, but I told him I wouldn’t because I didn’t know what to say.”
So then, we’re thinking how would we want her to deal with an adult if she were in a similar situation. Egad. We told her to trust her gut, and if she felt like she needed to say she wouldn’t tell anyone in order to get away, then she should do it.
Which makes me cry, because I don’t want her to ever have to deal with something like that. No parent does. It’s a horrible thought, and yet we have to have a plan, just in case, so she’ll know she can come to us and tell us anything.
Last night put something into perspective for us.
She’s only seven. She’s homeschooled, and the only kids she comes into contact with are church kids. In a group of about 12-15 kids, there is a little seven year old boys who think she’s a hottie. Oh. My. Gosh. My parents never had to deal with this. I had such low self-esteem, and was so shy, and awkward in my own skin, boys never gave me a second look until after I graduated from high school. It wasn’t that I was ugly, but I thought I was, and people agreed with me.
So far, all of my kids are emotionally healthy. They’re reasonably self-confident, and considerate [for the most part] and they just don’t have the issues that Steve and I had as kids with shyness and low self esteem. Which is good for them.
But a lot like hell for us. All of last night, I felt like a blind person on a cliff, groping around in the dark trying to find something to hold on to. I don’t think we did too bad, but I wasn’t ready to deal with this yet.
Does it ever get any easier?
Don’t answer. I already know.
*Not his real name