Do you remember your first crush? Or the first time someone declared their undying love for you?
I was eleven-years-old when a boy plucked up the courage to ask me out. I’m not sure what the young kids these days think ‘going out’ means but back in my day, it meant stolen kisses behind the school shed, holding each other’s sweaty hands and hugging real close. Innocent kid stuff.
I remember that day like it was yesterday (clichéd much?). Almost three decades on and the memory is as fresh as a daisy (I’ll stop with the clichés soon, I promise!).
I was the new kid on the block (again)… an awkward and shy girl, just moved houses in a different suburb, attending a new Catholic school, and starting sixth grade. It was the first time that anyone had shown any kind of interest in me, and I guess that made an impact on the memory bank.
The school bell had rung, closing another day of learning. All of the school children were rushing out of classrooms and making their way home. I was this meek-as-a-lamb girl, sporting a thick monobrow and an unfashionable blunt fringe, wearing secondhand uniform and lugging a heavy bag full of books home. I reeked of loneliness and sadness. Not really a boy’s pin-up girl.
This scrawny boy with pants a smidge too baggy, chased after me with his two friends in tow, calling out my name. After stopping next to me, he shifted nervously on his feet before spilling his guts. He liked me and wanted to know if I’d go out with him.
My mother had prepared me for boys and their interests. She had given me her version of the birds and the bees, which was simply to avoid those bees altogether. She had taught me what to say in these events.
I recited her words. “Thank you. I’m trying to do my best in school. I’m not interested in a relationship.”
I might have been this poor boy’s first crush and he was my first admirer. Two kids on the cusps of teenagerhood and its burgeoning hormones. The situation was utterly embarrassing for both of us and made unbearably awkward by my odd response. So much so, that two decades later when I walked into a burger joint across from work, we immediately recognised each other and the awkwardness continued.
This guy ran a fantastic burger joint, serving perfectly seasoned fat cut chips that were fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside. And the burgers had you salivating in anticipation. It was such a pity that the owner couldn’t look me in the eye and I couldn’t stand the weirdness of our conversations. My relationship with the burger joint ended prematurely. We didn’t stand a chance!
I’ve learnt from my experience with first crushes. I vowed that if my children came to me for advice, I would do better than my dear mother’s attempts.
Not too long ago (before school closed due to the pandemic), my seven-year-old daughter let me in on a secret and asked for my advice. This was how the conversation went.
Mandy: I think a boy likes me.
Me: OOOOHHHH, first crushes! Be cool, be cool Mumma! What makes you think that?
Mandy: He put his reading box next to mine.
Me: Uh… ok… Anything else?
Mandy: (shrugs) He always sits next to me on the floor.
Me: Hmm… need more to work with here buddy. Ok, anything else?
Mandy: He tugs my hair and calls me Mandy Moo Shoo.
Me: Ah… teasing, telltale signs. How does that make you feel?
Mandy: (shrugs) I don’t care. He also hugs me a lot.
Me: Wait a minute! What the hell? How does he hug you?
Mandy: He hugs my arm. And smacks my butt.
Me: What the?! Oh hell no, that is not cool!
Sometimes people can do strange things like tease or pull your hair to show you that they like you. BUT, that does NOT mean you should let anyone touch you without your permission. There are boundaries.
Mandy: Are boys just stupid and do stupid things?
Me: Try not to rant. Keep it simple. You can do this without preaching. Don’t waffle!
Uh, sometimes. Just remember that if anyone does anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, you tell them to stop and if they don’t stop, you tell the teacher. Remember that your vagina, your bottom, your chest, they are your private areas and no one should be touching those areas.
Mandy: Eww. Why would anyone do that?
Me: Um… not for this conversation. It can happen. You understand what Mummy is saying?
Me: You know you can tell me anything, right? I will always listen and try to help you.
Mandy: I know Mummy.
Me: (Hugs) And no more hugging with this boy. We’re in a pandemic for Pete’s sake.
I think I did a decent enough job. Let’s hope I don’t accidentally come across my daughter’s blog post in future and read how she could have given better advice on boys.
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