“You are the Second One on my Love List.”

I found this letter in Aliana’s backpack during the last week of school:

My first question was, “Who in the heck is Steve?”

My second question was, “What is a love street, and why is he saying that you are the second one on it?”

I tried to ask these questions as calmly as possible. I explained to her that when you are seven, you are friends with everyone, but you don’t have “boyfriends” until you are much older. 

And then I paused to silently reflect on the fact that I actually had a “boyfriend” in both kindergarten and in second grade. (There must not have been any cute boys in my first grade class). 

My kindergarten boyfriend gave me a ring as a gift. When I showed it to my mom, she told me it looked too expensive to keep and that I needed to give it back to him the next day. When I told my boyfriend that my mom wouldn’t let me keep it, he confessed that he got it from his mom’s jewelry box, but that she “didn’t care.” I forced him to take it back, though, because I knew my own mother would be walking me to his house to discuss the ring with his family if I didn’t get rid of it. If my mom would have been the swearing type–she’s totally not–but if she had been, her motto would have been, “Do no harm, but take no sh**.”

Anywho, my second grade boyfriend wrote me a note and asked me to “go” with him. I said yes, and I thought he was going to hold my hand at the end of the year skating party until he chickened out. Then he moved to Florida. 

And then not a single boy expressed interest in me until the age of fifteen. Talk about a dry spell.

So I’ve tried to chill out about this letter I found, while simultaneously using it as an opportunity to talk to her about how important it is TO NOT SPEAK ABOUT BOYFRIEND/GIRLFRIEND STUFF UNTIL I FIGURE OUT HOW TO OWN AND OPERATE A HANDGUN TO KEEP THE BOYS OFF MY PROPERTY UNTIL SHE’S 18. 

Just kidding; I’m a pacifist. 

But on a serious note, this stuff makes my head spin. It really does. Like my brain says, “This is way too freaking young to be talking about this.” 

But, then I remember that this very topic–like many others–is one that I want her to first talk about with ME, her mother. Not the kid up the street. Not some random adult from church. Not an acquaintance or even friend of the family–FROM ME. Because I’m the mama bear and I am the one who will be raising her and modeling for her how to have healthy relationships. 

So back to Steve. Freaking Steve.

Aliana proceeded to explain to me that Steve is a friend from YMCA Daycare and that when he wrote the sentence, “You are the second one on my love st.,” he was trying to tell her that she is the second one on his love LIST. Some freaking love list. 

“Love list? There’s such a thing as a love list?” I asked her.

And then I started having flashbacks to middle school when we would play MASH on notebook paper and list three boys we liked, and then three cars, and a bunch of other crap. 

So this love list is maybe kinda like MASH. 

But I got down on eye level with her, and this is what I said:

“You know that when we talk about loving each other in elementary school, we talk about loving each other as friends. There’s no boyfriend/girlfriend stuff. Got it?”

“Got it,” she said.

“But furthermore, when you ARE old enough to have a boy like you and he tells you that he loves you, but that you are number two on ‘his list,’ you need to say, ‘Oh I’m not number two, honey, because I’m removing myself as an option on this so-called list.’ Aliana, when it comes to love, remember this: never be someone’s number two. You don’t rank people or love.”

By this time, she was walking into the living room to turn on PBS Kids. She didn’t get it. And then I realized I was kinda saying that message to my own damn self.

When it comes to love, there is no number two. There is no list. Did you hear that, Emily? There is no number two. 


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