My husband keeps labeled photos on his phone for Teghan. She loves to thumb through photos on our phones, and will often use this as a communication tool. Sometimes she just wants to laugh at videos of herself. The other night she found a picture of my friend’s son Jacob. She said his name and just stared at it. She looked at him for an incredible length of time.
I know she likes him a lot. She is excited when he comes over and will follow him around. She likes to sit right next to him. But what does she really think? Who is this kid to her? I have little to go on. I know when I was her age I was in love with no less than twenty boys. Twenty exactly- I even had a list. I ranked all the first grade boys by how much they impressed me romantically, and my (dreaded) list was distributed weekly.
The results were usually announced before lunchtime. Paco was number one every time but once. He was my neighbor until the age of eight, and my very first kiss (at the age of three). Many of my childhood memories exist at Paco’s house, and I knew I would marry him.
I was wrong about that.
It should be noted that Paco was always a friend to me in spite of the endless ways I must have annoyed him. He was a nice kid, and I loved him right through the fifth grade. A lot of girls did.
But one week, for whatever reason, I chose a boy named Seth as my number one. Paco may have been relieved. It was reported on the playground that upon finding out he had beat Paco that week, Seth fell backwards out of his chair. Next week he was probably back at number three or four. Young love can be surprisingly fleeting, after all.
You know what’s funny? I ran into Seth at Walgreen’s last year and didn’t even recognize him. When he told me who he was, that is the first thing I thought of. We went to school together from Kindergarten through high school, and that is still my number one memory of Seth- that week in first grade when I ranked him first and he fell out of his seat.
I wrote a song about Paco.
I don’t know what any of it meant. I thought they were cute, but I doubt I wanted anything more from them than their acknowledgement of me. I desperately wanted to fit in with the boys. I needed them to think I was worth hanging out with, and that I could play “swear football” with the best of them. And I could- so they invited me in.
In case it isn’t obvious, swear football was a boy’s playground game. Playground supervisors rarely ventured out to the far field (which wasn’t as far as I remember it). The field was available for kids who wanted to arrange football or soccer games. The little geniuses had one rule to their games. ONLY swearing allowed. Penalties for anyone who dared to utter regular words, which did prove to be difficult if you wanted to express any actual thoughts. The supervisors never caught on.
My female friendships were different. At that age I didn’t feel as if girls had to be won over. I didn’t encounter any rejection among other girls until another girl thought I was trying to steal her best friend in the fifth grade. Otherwise most of my female acceptance struggles didn’t hit until junior high.
Six year old boys were more of a challenge, and I now know that my list was not the proper strategy. My ability to achieve actual respect among the boys was a combination of the neighborhood friendship I had formed with Paco, and my tomboy tendencies. On the playground I definitely preferred football over re-enacting scenes from the show “Jennifer Slept Here.” And I’m not kidding. There were a group of girls who did this every day at recess.
So what does Teghan really think about this kid? Does she just instinctively want to win the friendship of a boy? What’s so special about him? I don’t know. I wish I knew her thoughts on the matter. Jacob is twice her age, and demonstrates quite a bit of patience for the girl who wants to sit on his lap and destroy all his stuff. Her strategy is even worse than mine was.
She has no lists for me to worry about. She might enjoy a game of swear football….but I doubt Jacob will be leading her in that direction. All I know is that she stares at his picture and gets happy when he’s around.
And it’s pretty cute.