Last week, my daughter’s fantastic pre-school class hosted a holiday lunch and art show. I had an absolute ball eating lunch with my daughter, her friends, her teachers, and the parents of the other children in her class. The entire event was lovely, all until the very end when one of her assistant teachers started to tell me all about my daughter’s first crush. Come again?!?
A little, unknown, pet peeve of mine is my disdain for imposing adult characteristics onto children, whether that is certain clothing, relationships, or gendered stereotypes. As I stood there, shocked at the discord between this fantastic, wholesome event and what I was being told about my child, I was speechless. I certainly didn’t want to ruin the feel of the day or begin to lecture her assistant teacher during the holiday celebration, but to hear that my daughter had her first “boyfriend” and a “special connection” to another preschooler was bizarre to say the least. When the teacher started to say something about my daughter’s request to have a sleepover with this boy and a conversation about kisses only being for cheeks, I think I may have blacked out.
I truly believe in my heart of hearts that her teacher meant no ill will and was only sharing this with me because she genuinely thought it was cute, but I didn’t. In fact, I have a big problem with prescribing adult relationships onto any 3 year old, let alone my daughter. If another parent happens to say something like that to my child or me, or even another child says it, then it is up to me to explain to my daughter that teenagers can have boyfriends and girlfriends, and that adults can get married, but that little kids– boys and girls, are friends.
I recognize that I do not control the behaviors of others and if you find that sort of talk cute and don’t see any harm in it, fine. To each his or her own. I think what threw me off was that this was my daughter’s teacher saying it. When it comes to school, teachers are an authority figure and there to instruct and I don’t want my daughter’s teachers encouraging her to talk about her friends as boyfriends or label her excitement over a new friend as a “crush”.
I’ve decided that I am going to have a conversation with someone I know who works in the school to explain my point of view and receive feedback. I don’t want to make this about one teacher and would like to discuss the potential for a school wide conversation with all teachers and staff.
My daughter is hilarious, smart, friendly and confident… if I do say so myself. But one thing my daughter is not is a flirt and she definitely doesn’t have a boyfriend. There’s plenty of time for growing up. Why rush?