A listening ear may be all your in-love preteen needs from you
Remember having a crush on your best friend’s big brother or your grade-five teacher? I was deeply in love with mine, Mr. Miller, when I was 10. I memorized almost every word he spoke. Of course, I never admitted to anyone how I felt.
Do preteens today still have crushes? Oh, yeah. And they’re not as bashful and shy as we were about sharing their feelings.
Diane Patterson* watched her son, Ben, go through his first crush at age 10. “She was a friend’s daughter who was several years older. He drew a picture of her with hearts all over the paper,” she recalls.
Not content to just admire her from a distance, Ben would eagerly spend time with this girl whenever the families got together, and would IM her as often as he could. She was friendly and treated him well, but nothing more. He’s 12 now, and she’s still the girl of his dreams.
Naturally, Patterson worries her son will be hurt. She’s talked to Ben about the situation, pointing out that the object of his devotion is much older, already has a boyfriend and probably thinks of him as a little brother. “Telling him this didn’t change anything,” she adds. “He still hopes she will come to like him in a different way.”
It can also be challenging for the parent of the child who is the “crushee.” Amy Irish* is a mother of three, including nine-year-old daughter Rosie, who is the object of another nine-year-old’s deep affection.
Rosie has known Andrew since she was three. “They’d get along one minute, then hate each other the next,” Irish recalls. “Once, when he was five, he kissed her on the school bus. But then they went right back to fighting.”
One day, Andrew asked Rosie what her favourite charm was. “I jokingly said ‘I hope you told him diamonds,’” says Irish. A week later, Andrew presented Rosie with a sterling-silver necklace with a heart pendant, set with diamond chips. “Real diamonds,” Irish adds.
Irish felt the gift was inappropriate, but when she approached Andrew’s mother, the response was not what Irish expected. “She had no problem with it and told me Andrew had bought it with his own money and spent hours picking it out.” Not wanting to create a difficult situation with a neighbour, Irish let it go. Andrew still has a huge crush on Rosie.