Carter and Zane have always said they have girlfriends and Sara almost always says she has a boyfriend, but this is different. Katie Beth is a real girlfriend.
This past weekend, the Children turned six and at their party I got to meet Katie Beth and she her and Carter together. It bears mention that Katie Beth was the only girl that Carter invited to the party.\
I could tell by the way she followed him around making moony eyes at him, by the way he scoots over next to her so their arms touch whenever they sit next to each other, and a whole bunch of other little things that this is TRUE LOVE. Not just TRUE LOVE, but TRUE LOVE 4 EVER.
I've asked Carter why Katie Beth is his girlfriend. If I can get him to stop giggling at the question, he says, “because she likes me.” I'd guess that this is the same reason that 99.99% of the world's men choose the mates they choose so who could argue with that reasoning? Not me.
The flurry of conflicting emotions the phenominon of Carter and Katie Beth brings forth in me is mind blowing. On one hand, they are so sweet and cute together, it just about melts my teeth. On the other hand, THEY'RE ONLY SIX, so, the idea confuses me and makes me more than a little uncomfortable! Then, there's the “Thank God he likes girls” thing to throw in.
So lets analyze these feelings and see if we can get to some kind of insight or truth about me, parental anxiety, or something that is, perhaps, more universal.
1. They are so sweet cute together. Seeing them affects me as though every Hallmark valentine card were distilled into one noxious, artery clogging, sugar overdose and injected straight into my cerebellum.
I've got no problem with this--I'm a sap that's OK. I might not have been so comfortable with this inner Alan Alda a few years ago, but now…who cares. I can't help but see Carter and Katie Beth together and feel all squishy inside.
In fact, I feel all squishy inside about quite a few things and that's OK also.
I've been participating in Carter, Sara, and Zane's school's guest reader program—which is tons of fun—and I picked Shel Silverstein's “The Giving Tree” to read yesterday. Now, there's something about thisbook that makes me all Oprah inside. I can't get beyond the first few pages without getting all gooey and watery-eyed.
I feel very little shame or embarrassment about this. In fact, the emotions the Giving Tree brings forth make for good dramatic effect when I'm reading. I'm still not sure why this book affects me like it does, but is proof that Shel Silverstein is perhaps the 20th century's most underrated poet. "Sylvia's Mother," "Sarah Cynthia Silvia Stout Who Would Not Take The Garbage Out," "Cover Of The Rolling Stone," "So Good To So Bad So Soon,"—fugetabotit. Pure genius.
I'm as sappy as tree in the spring time and if you call me a girly man it will bother me not one iota.
I think the term, “girlyman,” is one designed and used by frustrated old maids to justify why they can't get a man. I'll not allow anyone, least of all those who throw invective around carelessly, to conceal their own romantic disappointments and shortcomings, to deprive me of any honest emotion.
So, there. Now pass me some quiche and sushi before I open up a can of whup-ass on you.
2. They are only six for pete's sake!
As innocent as it all is, if it weren't for the fact that I had a girlfriend at Carter's age, I might be highly uncomfortable with the idea of Carter and Katie Beth. They should be making mud pies not making googly eyes at each other.
When I was six, a girl named Christy Fuller told me she was going to be my girl friend and give me a Valentine's present. She did--a really cool plastic car--and I was hers forever. Well, actually only until the end of the year then again in third grade when we were in the same class together again and she gave me a Christmas present and a Valentine present. After that, however, we were never in the same class again and our love was lost in the mists of time…sigh.
Despite all the inherent weirdness of it all, isn't it fascinating that this behavior is so hard wired into people? The children have talked about having girlfriends--or boyfriends in Sara's case--who they are going to marry, and other kinds of things for the past few years.
However, until now, this has been almost entirely play-talk. It's no more real than when they make up little stories to go along with their toys. It's narrative playfulness and little else.
Like when Sara says she wants to be a maid when she grows up. Being a maid is good honest work and there's dignity inherent in any honest work. However, something tells me that considering how Sara is surrounded strong, smart, and accomplished women--warrior princesses all, I don't take sara too serious when she runs around the house with the feather duster.
Like my romance with Christy Fuller, Carter and Katie Beth's romance will likely move on as soon as they move apart in school, but for now, their love is as real as it gets for anybody. True Love 4 ever.
3. At least he likes girls…I'm going to be honest here folks. On one hand, love is love and love and companionship are essential human needs and however two people find each other and forge bonds and learn to live together is fine with me. I condemn nobody for loving whomever they love.
Considering all the horrible crap in the world, the fact that anybody ever finds anybody to love is an amazing testament to Love's enduring power. Love is the morning and the evening star and as such is a force too powerful for me to presume limitations on.
On the other hand, a good portion of the human race will never be willing to let people live and let live. Most people are more likely to pick up a rock and join in the stoning as to congratulate you on finding somebody whose company makes you happy.
So, like most parents, I wish for my children nothing that makes their lives' more difficult than it has to be. Therefore, finding a cute and sweet little girl to fall in love with is on the “make your life easier” side of the balance sheet rather than the “make your life harder” side.