I know it’s a little late for a Valentines Day post, but this isn’t just about V Day, it’s about young love, broken hearts and growing up too fast!
My sweet little girl is just 7 years old. Ever since she has been at school, she has loved the same boy. That’s not to say he was the only boy she loved. At one point, in that lovely innocent way little children have, every boy friend she had became a boyfriend. I believe she informed her true beloved of this in Class 1 – that he was one of many. Because children are not meant to understand fidelity at that age any more than they understand the different types of love or the rest of the complications that come with grown up love or even the angst of teenage love.
In Reception, aged 4, he gave her chocolate on V Day. His older sister clearly facilitated this, since at 4 he also didn’t know any more about love other than to tell his mum he loved Sackgirl.
In Class 1, aged 5, she gave him chocolate. In Class 2, I think they swapped cards, or maybe that year we forgot about V Day. I can’t recall. By then they each had a number of loves.
“I’m his number 2 love,” she would tell me. “His number 1 is Claire. He is still my number 1 love, but I also love Billy and Owen and that boy from holiday, what was his name?”
Then she would add, “I am Matts number 1 love. But I don’t love him. He follows me round and does everything I say, which is boring.”
This is how 6 year old love works. Isn’t it fabulous and innocent and wonderful? Everyone happy. Well, apart from Matt. (And also an interesting insight into how early and instinctively we women start to fall for the hard-to-get and dismiss the always-faithful-and-there-for-us type).
This year, aged 7, things seem to have changed. Sackgirl’s friend, Susie, has ‘been going out with’ Joshua for ever. They share notes. Sackgirl doesn’t seem bothered her friend has a boyfriend or that they ‘go out’ since she says they don’t go anywhere really, they just see each other at school.
Susie does have a more grown up viewpoint of life. Whether this is because she is a single child with more adult company and therefore more adult viewpoints, whether it’s because her mum is more girly and takes her shopping, whether it’s the TV she watches or the personality she has – who knows? I am not judging, it’s not wrong.
But I see my Sackgirl still more interested in computer games than boys and I’m both glad she is still a child and worried that she will become the odd one out.
This year Sackgirl took a card in for her beloved (despite telling me that he had 3 other loves this year).
And he tore it up.
Tore up her card, in front of his friends.
Suddenly, it seems, he too is growing out of his innocent awareness of love and heading towards the boy-embarrased-by-the-girl-following-him stage.
Susie informed me that he tore this offering of love up in the hallway and threw it in the bin. All his friends were horrified at his callousness. They told him off. She shared this titbit of gossip with relish, horror at such heartless cruelty pouring off her.
Susie’s mother asked me if Sackgirl was ok, after this horrific incident at school. Was she shattered into pieces, and sobbing all night? Mr G wanted to do what all daddies want to do to the boy that broke their little girls heart.
I confess to being a little nonplussed. These are 7 year old children. Am I wrong to think it’s all part of growing up? Am I bizarre that I believe these grownups are projecting their own, adult, understanding of love onto children too young to care yet? Should I be calling his mother and complaining about this child, in defence of my daughter?
Of course, I am upset my little girl was upset in this way. Of course, I am there to cuddle her and reassure her that, at this age, girls think about love and boys think about football. Of course I am there if she needs me.
But I don’t think making ‘the Tearing of Sackgirl’s V Day Card’ into a major incident is teaching her anything valuable. In fact, surely it just teaches her that she ought to be feeling distraught that she was unwanted by a boy. That her happiness depends on her love being returned by this one boy.
Sackgirl, by the way, informed me, quite matter-of-factly, that he tore it up. But he apologised later, from where he was sat behind her in class. To her, that was the end of it.
I am proud that my little girl is still a little girl, inside.
And I love the young lady that she is becoming, who has her priorities right. Who cares about boys, after all, when there are games to be played?