Valentine’s warning: Affectionate action poses risk, reward

Little Amber blasted through the door separating her TK class from the big wild kingdom that is the school playground.

That apple of her eye may as well have had a target on his face. His radiant freckles and gingered blonde hair glimmering in the sun; the little girl bounded toward the object of her obsession.

Jonah imagined he had rocket boosters on his back, and took off at mach speed in the opposite direction. He found safety beneath the slide, and all seemed safe for a time.

As the little boy’s focus shifted from evading his predator, and towards a bouncing ball that required interception, suddenly, a glare blinded the child. It’s her glasses. Oh no! She had found him.

At that moment, the boy tensed up, he slinked down, trying to hide inside his coat. Could he really become a turtle?

Oh no, here it comes.

“Jooooohhhnnnnaaaahhhhh!!!” little Amber’s arms outstretched, she reached out — arms like giraffe necks — she pulled the poor kid into a big, hearty hug.

He wore his doom like a badge of shame that day.

This girl has been here since he was 4. The year before they were best of friends. She even brought bubbles to his birthday party. But, things are different now. He’s a kindergartner. And, well, she needs a little more time, to develop her social skills.

I got the message as I was heading out of town on an errand that day. My daughter had been chasing this boy at school, her teacher let me know that his mom was informed as well, and I hope I picked up the message right that she’s kind of where I am in the matter.

Do we control their fate?

Sometimes I am more aware than others, they may be humoring me, in my philosophical dilemma. I just, can’t help but imagine the possibilities. These little lovebirds could be the next great leaders in our little town. If they’ve got the whole “looking for love” business worked out early on, who’s to say what they can accomplish academically without the distraction.

That afternoon, as I picked up my daughter, we talked about appropriate boundaries, and I remind her that cooties are real and that “the boys carry the mono.”

She insisted she remembered the slight fever that evolved last time we had an incident like this. We practiced the following mantra, that I hope she recites every time this urge bubbles back to the surface.

“Jonah, you are my friend, and I respect your boundaries.”

We worked for about an hour, and reviewed the phrase and it’s meaning throughout the evening. I truly hope I don’t get another message like the one I received that day. But, honestly, it makes me wonder.

In this age where kids are learning their limits and appropriate social boundaries, who are we really, to impose a limit on matters of the heart? I mean, most of us have heard a country song or two where a little kid and another little kid, they just know… they’re meant to be. I think it could be really inspiring to see them at 30, and see how this whole thing pans out.

I’ve talked with Jonah’s parents. It was pretty mandatory as we followed the group in their Taco Tico preschool tour, our two little sweethearts holding hands the whole way. The little ones sat together with their group of friends, enjoying their Tico date. Was that their first date?

I remember sitting across from Jonah’s dad that day and just giggling. It truly was pretty adorable. And, I let Dad know that I can fully financially support my daughter if, in her rebellious teenage years, she may choose to move out to their rural community. We laughed, but at the same time, I could sense the prayers radiating from him too. I prayed that mine would see the light, and her focus would soon shift to a profession – potentially in the medical field. But, back then the kids were 5, so no pressure for them.

In this holiday week, focused primarily on the glorification of acts of love and romance, I wish that all, large and small, find that object of their affection.

When you do, please, by all means, remind yourself of our mantra, that boundaries are to be respected, and also heed the fact that – cooties are real.

But. Still. Grab that puppy, or person, or bird, and give a little affectionate squeeze. They say hugs are natures anti-depressant, and in this cold season, maybe that could do us all some good.


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