Ollie fell in love this year. Well as much as two ten-year olds can fall in love that is head over heels, jagged breathed, giggly, romanticizing, wishful, bittersweet puppy love . The fifth grade was a flutter with crushes. Mini love triangles, dramatic faux breakups, bitter rivalries were all over the play ground for weeks. I would know, Ollie kept me fully updated as she was a trust worthy friend and never shared a crush she was told so I became her “secret” release valve. She told me about Ava, Ella, Jack and Gavin. Who was on, who was off. She also told me her secret crush was on Lucas.
Ollie fell hard for Lucas.
Lucas fell hard for Ollie.
It was one of those perfect timing things that is rare as an adult but even more so for a couple of scatter brained children on the verge of puberty with thoughts ping-ponging from the opposite sex to Sponge Bob. The build up was intense let me tell you. The carpool rides fraught with hand wringing wonder “does he like me? I hope he likes me..” Eventually it was confirmed, he did in fact “Like Her”, what a glorious day that was!
They. Knew. They. Were. In. Mutual. Like. !
Then came her birthday party in February, an actual event outside of school! (This is huge for them, a real milestone in their relationship.)
I knew it was serious (and was more than a little concerned) when they were holding hands at recess, every recess, for weeks but we talked about it. Not during one long all at once conversation but spaced out over various trips to school or softball practice. Quick question and answer sessions about the current issue or emotion.
We talked about why she felt the way she did, both in her heart and in her body. How it felt emotionally for her to have a crush. We talked about where it was felt inside her tiny budding frame and what that meant physically for the next few months and years. We talked about how she should act and behave towards him, towards her other friends, and towards herself. We talked about what is and is not appropriate at this age and at other ages. We talked about what her friends might be feeling or thinking. What he might be feeling. What his body might be going through and how it might be affecting him. Things that were embarrassing and things that made us cringe. We laughed and were mortified and agreed unanimously that Dad probably shouldn’t know about most of this stuff.
The months passed and I heard less and less about Lucas. He was playing soccer now and she liked playing flag-football. His desk got moved and she spent lunch with the girls. I would enquire and the answers were less and less effusive. Until recently, during another carpool ride home she turned to me contemplatively and dropped the bombshell. “I don’t think I like Lucas anymore.”
“Holy geez! (My mind not completely blown but Oscar worthy pretending to be for the sake of my daughter.) Tell me everything.”
While we all know what the reasons were that Lucas & Ollie would not be lasting past elementary graduation, she was heartbroken that her feelings had changed. She was concerned that he would be hurt or offended that she just didn’t “like him like him” any more. I asked if she liked someone else, no. I asked if she thought he liked someone else, no. It was just that they liked hanging out with their friends and they were not so interested in hanging out with only each other any more. She sat pensively in the passenger seat looking out the window at the bay.
I almost laughed out loud. I mean come on she’s 11. I pulled it together and then this came out.
“Ollie, you gotta stop worrying about this. We talked about how this relationship was always going to be just for 5th grade. There isn’t anywhere else this could go.” She rolled her eyes and crossed her arms leaning farther towards the window. Ok not my best work. I was undeterred. I regrouped, said a quick mental “please help me God” and I have to say that even I was pretty impressed with what He put in my mouth next. (Thanks Big Guy. I owe you, yet again.)
“Hey, kid, come on and look at me. I know you’re upset and I am sorry that your hurt and I know you don’t want to hurt Lucas. Listen, okay?” She turns towards me again. ” Relationships are like flowers. They need attention, lots and lots of attention. They need to be watered and fed and nurtured. You are eleven years old. You are not expected to be able to water and feed and nurture a relationship. You are expected to play with your friends and do well in school. You are just not quite ready. You’re relationship with Lucas has wilted,” Her face falls again.
“uh, hello! NOT because you didn’t care or because Lucas doesn’t care but because that’s to be expected.” She looks up, I have her again. God & I plunge onward.
“This is all preparation. Each relationship you have is preparation. They are all going to teach you things. Things about you. Things you like, things you don’t like. They will teach you about other people. Things you like and things you don’t like. There will be all sorts of lessons and through each of them you’ll grow a little bit and a little bit more. This is just the first time. There will be all kinds of flowers along the way. Each with its own story and trust me honey there will be some weeds too. Some things to pull out and till over! Some you may need a tractor for!” She laughs brightly. Ah sweet success!
“Don’t you worry my dear, Lucas is just the first flower in your garden.”