This year was certain to be different. As my six-year-old son climbed those big bus steps and waved goodbye, I couldn’t help but think he looked so grown-up. His first time at school ALL day, first time eating lunch in the cafeteria, first time riding the bus to and from school…First grade certainly would be a year of firsts. The youngest boys and I anxiously waited for him to come home. Afternoon seemed to take forever to arrive, and by noon M had asked me at least a dozen times when school would be done. Finally it was time. With a big grin on his face, R raced up our driveway.
As we sat outside eating cookies, In typical motherly fashion I bombarded him with the string of questions that had been flooding my mind all day. “So buddy, who do you sit by? Did you go to PE? Is your teacher nice? Did you make any new friends? Who’d you ride with on the bus? Did you remember to thank the bus driver? Did you read any books? What’d you do at recess?” In typical first grade boy fashion, he responded, “Andrew. Yep. She’s nice. Yep. Tyler. Yep. Yep. Played soccer.” And continued chowing down on his cookie. Realizing that I wouldn’t be able to coax much out of him while cookies were around, I gave it a rest. Not a few minutes later, he added, “Oh, and at lunch recess the girls chased us around. They were trying to kiss us, Mom! But don’t worry. I ran too fast for them. I bet we’ll have to do that a lot this year.”
Kindergarten year was a unique one for R. By the last month of school, his class only consisted of six kids. Five boys and one girl. It started out with 12 (still only one girl), but slowly dwindled down. GIRLS. That would be a new dynamic this year I hadn’t even considered.
When my husband got home from work that night and the boys were all asleep, I told him what R had done at recess. “Oh!” he exclaimed. “I remember that game in elementary school. That was fun.” I gave him a death stare. “Hey, I always ran fast enough to keep away! You mean you didn’t play that? I thought everyone played it.” Our first grade boy was being chased by girls to get kissed, and apparently I wasn’t cool enough to chase the boys when I was a kid. This was devastating news to a mom of three boys. Girls? First grade?? That cutesy little chant, “…so-and-so and what’s her name, sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g.” came into my mind. My son was running away from girls, and according to my husband it was totally normal.
Before I sound like a lunatic mother with a little cootie-phobia, Let me clarify. Of course I wasn’t afraid of my son getting caught and kissed. He’s pretty darn fast, even I can hardly catch him! Ok, ok. And I suppose a little peck on the playground in first grade doesn’t exactly spell out matrimony. But suddenly in my mind I was imagining a little boy ten years older taking a girl on his first date. Eight years after that bringing a girl home from college to “meet the parents,” and only a matter of time before a full blown wedding would be planned. Whew! Those years sure flew by in my mind! Playing chase on the playground, simply the beginning.
As my husband and I brushed our teeth that night, I concocted a plan. We have so many friends with adorable little girls. How about an arranged marriage? It worked wonders for so many of my husband’s co-workers from other countries. Why not give it a try? My husband was less than keen on that idea. Since that was out, I was left with only one option. Let my boys make their own decisions and teach them to be good kids the best I can. Darn. I still kinda like the arranged marriage idea (any takers?? 🙂 ).
I remember coming home from college and going on walks with my mom. We’d come to a piece of garbage on the ground, and every time my mom would pick it up and say, “Chelsi, a nice boy would never throw garbage on the ground.” She’d then always add, “and when you meet someone you think might be the one, watch how he treats his mom, because that’s important. That’s very possibly how he will treat you. Does he put the cart back into the cart spot at the grocery store? Does he listen to what you have to say? Can you talk to him?” Those words of advice stuck with me, and when I found my husband, I was pleased to be able to say yes to every one on my mom’s list, plus so much more.
So, my boys, though you won’t need this list for many, many years, here’s your mother’s two cents of what I hope you can remember when the girls are doing a bit more than chasing you on the playground.
How does she talk not only to, but also about her family? Does she speak of them kindly?
Does she have good spending habits? Is she wise with her money?
Does she have a healthy view of her body and appearance?
Does she listen?
How does she treat the waiter/waitress? Is she kind to others?
Does she return the grocery cart to the appropriate spot?
For now I will just try to teach my boys and help them to develop good habits that will attract a kind, considerate, happy girl. I’ll do my very best to teach them that garbage always goes in the garbage can, carts should never be left anywhere but the appropriate “cart designated” spots, and people should always be treated with respect, especially women and girls. I’ll try to help them to be good listeners, that potty talk is incredibly unattractive, and to chew with their mouths closed. And for now, I’ll remind my sons to run as fast as they can and try not to let those girls catch them!
Moms of those sweet little girls, I promise to do my best at raising sons worthy of your daughters. Will you do the same? And 20 years from now we can both be thrilled that they have found each other.