My Terrific Toddler has a girl friend. You say her name and he grins wider than usual. Her name garners immediate attention. We heard the tales from the daycare staff.
“He sits by her cot and waits for her to wake up.”
“She was upset and he just sat with her.”
But, his eyes alone tell a story. They grow large with love. His softer facial expressions tell me every ounce of his adoration when I ask him about “school,” our word for daycare. And, it was time. I had to tell him the story. I never even told my husband this story. A story forgotten in age and grown up responsibilities. A love story.
There was a time when a little boy stole my heart. We were also daycare mates. Daycare memories are the strangest. Fused to the back of my mind are crayons, bins, and cots. The pungent Lysol and fish stick odor wafts through my memory. There I stood, a shy grade school girl, looking for friendship, love and acceptance. If you seek hard enough, fate sends a shy little boy.
He stood taller than me and from the minute I asked him, “will you be my boyfriend?” we were inseparable. Even at nap time, he would sneak the closest he could to my cot, and I did the same. He was my friend. Neither of us understood what a relationship entailed. There was no marriage or mortgage. There was only a simple desire to be next to each other always, from arrival till pick up time.
Even as he played Nintendo, I sat glued to his side wanting the same desire I would want as a teenager and college student. He needed to put down the damn controller and pay attention to me. There you go, guys, it’s really that simple. No girl wants to watch you play video games unless we’re also playing. Otherwise, we are bored in mind numbing girl anger.
But, I stayed by my boyfriend’s side, on the rainy days when he played video games and we colored undecipherable images. Outside on the sunny fall days, I followed him up into the wooden playhouse tree tops. If he went too high to reach on the swing, I kicked my scraggly bruised knees harder trying to swing just as high. We flew together. I would’ve followed that boy to the moon. The boy whose name has been erased by time.
Then a worker saw us too close at nap time. We were separated immediately. I didn’t understand why. I only understood we were in trouble. But for what I cannot understand, even as an adult. The boy didn’t come back the following day. A weekend went by, and another school day came. Still, my friend did not return. I looked day after day for my friend, my boyfriend. My eyes constantly checking the door and drop off desk for his return, and my heart grieved.
Days turned into months, I never saw him again. Daycare was never the same after he left. My heart never stopped asking ‘why?’ Sunny days were dull. A couple years later my time also ended at daycare.
To my son, I make you one promise. I will always remember her name for you. You are too young to know of love, but not too young to love. Be kind to girls. Be her friend, and in her memory you will always live as love.
To my sweet little daycare friend, you were never forgotten. You were my friend. And you were loved. In a memory, you are still loved.