At our church retreat last week, my six-year old discovered an – shall we say – appreciation for her class teacher. “Mom,” she whispered. “I got my first crush!”
“Yeah, on my teacher!”
“Your teacher? What’s his name?”
We have some conversation about the admirable qualities of nice, funny Ben before moving onto other subjects.
The next day:
“Mom, guess what? I told Ben I had a crush on him, and he said he has a crush on me, too!”
“Wow, that’s great! So does this mean he’s your boyfriend now?”
“No, Mom, I can’t have a boyfriend! I have a husband!”
The tone of her voice tells me she is questioning my mental capacity.
“Oh, really, who? You said you wanted to marry G [a boy from her pre-Kindergarten class]. Did that happen without me noticing?”
“NO, Mom! Jack! Jack is my husband.”
“Oh, right. I forgot about Jack.”
Jack is her imaginary husband of about six months. He started out as a fiancé, and almost instantaneously moved up to permanent status. When she told me about their marriage, she also told me emphatically that he’s an adult, not a kid, and I refrained from commenting on yet another barrier to the legality and longevity of their union.
When Jack first became a part of our lives, she had long, rapid-fire conversations with him on an old Blackberry in Public, an imaginary language first invented by her older brother when he was three or four. (I think he must have heard the phrase “speaking in public” and misapplied it in a manner that actually makes total sense.) Public has no discernible rules, grammatical structure, or consistency, but sometimes sounds like Minion language, if the Minions were only slaughtering Spanish and perhaps Portuguese, and not also French, Mandarin, and a grab bag of other languages.
I’m not sure who the wronged party is in this situation: Jack or Ben. The husband or the crush? But I am relieved my daughter at least understands that adultery is not an option.
So, this morning, as we’re snuggling in bed, we revisit the subject of Ben, for the benefit of her older sister, who wasn’t at the retreat with us. “Why do you like Ben again? Is it because he’s nice and funny?”
“No! It’s because he has big arm muscles!”
She shows me how big with her own arms. Somehow, she has become a shallower person at six years and one week than she was at six.
“But he’s not your boyfriend. Because of Jack.”
“Jack isn’t my husband! He’s my friend.”
“I thought he was your husband. Remember? First he was your fiancé?”
“Oh, right. But now he’s only my friend.”
“Why? Is it so Ben can be your boyfriend?”
“No! Ben can’t be my boyfriend. He’s married.”
“Can I be married to both of them?”
“No, you can’t!”
“I can’t keep one a secret and not tell anyone?”
So much for the morals of a six-year old.