Recently Gigi told me she liked a boy. She’s in 1st grade, so I don’t even know what liking a boy at this stage even means, but naturally, my response was, “who needs boys when you’re going to be running your own television network?”
I didn’t try to talk her out of it, or tell her it was too soon, or that it was silly. I listened, mostly because I always want her to tell me things, and talk to me about her feelings, I’m a hippie parent like that. And, I totally understand that she’s 6 and liking a boy at 6 is nothing like liking a boy at 10 or 12 or even 30, so I smiled and we chatted about it and moved on, as we do, because there’s 900 repetitive viewings of Disney’s Descendants to be watched for shit’s sake.
But, then the plot thickened… her friend liked him, too. This changed everything, and I can’t entirely understand why. Is it an instinct? Do girls get some sort of girl handbook that outlines crushes?
It went from, he’s nice, I like sitting on top of the monkey bars with him, to wanting to bring him gifts to win him over, and suddenly I looked at her and saw me. I did that, and not just with boys, but with my friends. I was always so insecure about people liking me, that I’d be the first to show up with a gift, just because, or pick up a tab at dinner, or say “yes” when I really should have said “no.” And I’d show up at school with trinkets for boys I liked, in the hopes that giving them something they liked, would in turn, make them like me. I bought a crush named Mike a $50 Michael Jordan coffee table book with my saved confirmation money, only to have his mom return it to my mom a week later, stating it was far too extravagant of a gift between acquaintances. Humiliating.
Fun fact, he’s one of my husband’s best friends. So this continues to not be awkward at all.
The good news is that the crush aspect was short lived, I think. Gigi now calls him her best friend, and they are back to just being normal little kids who play house and sing Macklemore songs. But, it made me pause and think of all the things I never want my daughter, or sons, to do for a crush.
Give gifts. I never want Gigi to feel she has to give away something to get something. Maybe that something is a Michael Jordan coffee table book, or maybe it’s her virginity. Either way, I don’t want her to ever think the security and viability of a relationship or love hangs on how much she has to give up. Just like those fake modeling companies Tyra warns about on every cycle of America’s Next Top Model, if you have to pay for headshots, it’s not legit. Same goes for a relationship, you either like someone for free, or you’re scamming them.
Pretend to be dumb. Remember when Cady pretended to be stupid in Math class to talk to Aaron in Mean Girls? Grool, me too. I never want to see this happen in real life. Gigi is a math genius, and I don’t want her to ever downplay how brilliant she is to look less intimidating to a crush. And that goes for any of her talents. I have two boys, and I can tell you that 80% of their friend conversations deal with bragging about how awesome they are at Basketball, one upping each other, taking funny shots at each other, and thriving as they get more competitive. I don’t see that enough with girls, or women, and we should.
Drop her friends. This one is alternately titled, shitty things Brittany used to do when a boy finally liked her. My Junior year of high school, I finally got a boyfriend, and that became more important than every other thing in my life, including my friends. (Jordan and Laura, if you are reading this, I’m sorry.) Granted, I ended up marrying that boyfriend, but even now, he will never replace the part of me held by my friends. I don’t care if Gigi has one best friend, or five, I never want her to set aside the unconditional love, support and sisterhood of a friendship for a crush. I also never want her to have a crush that makes her feel she has to choose. Besties before testes!
Change. Okay, this post has become the most depressing episode of This Is Your Life, ever. Just ask the skateboard in my parents’ garage how this worked out for me. It didn’t, and all I was left with was ugly baggy jeans, a diary full of Avril Lavigne lryics and an unused skateboard. Don’t ever change to make someone like you, Gigi. Don’t pretend to like skateboarding or country music or football for someone, unless you actually do. Because being someone you aren’t is exhausting, it never lasts, and it’s disrespectful to the actual bad ass girl you are. If someone likes you, it’s because the qualities you are already rocking out are qualities they dig and find exciting. Morphing into a clone of someone you like is creepy and boring, two things love should never be.
Love is an exciting thing, my darling girl, so instead of launching head first too fast into real live crushes, I’ve decided to let you borrow a few of my firsts…
Jonathon Brandis, Tom Selleck, Tom Hanks’ red headed best friend from Big, and Baloo from TailSpin. Treat them well, and if they get too needy, simply turn them off and go back to taking over the world.