All this recent talk about girlfriends and boyfriends in my son's 5th grade class has made me nostalgic for the 10-year-old girl that I used to be.
You see, I too had a "boyfriend" in the 4th grade. So it really isn't any surprise to me that this concept exists in my children's elementary school world. However, the term "boyfriend", at least among myself and my posse, meant nothing more than "hanging out" with a special boy. Anything more than that would have been totally taboo.
In my case, my "boyfriend" was a newly transplanted boy from Iceland.
Aaaaah . . . the mysterious newcomer!
God, I hope he doesn't read this blog.
Anyway, I remember being drawn to his icy blue eyes and golden hair. I know I tried to sit by him every chance I got, and at one point or another I recall someone telling us that we were (oh! happy day!) "going out."
Let me tell you, the only place we were going was to the monkey bars. I would sit on top of the rungs, Nike tennis shoes with rainbow laces dangling from my gawky legs, and listen to Scott* speak "Icelandic". I could sit there all day, and when the bell would ring signalling the end of recess and the immediate return to the classroom, it was all I could do not to count the minutes on the clock until we'd be able to go back outside and resume our places on the playground.
We were boyfriend and girlfriend all year, and by the end of 4th grade I am certain that the entire school knew this.
Knowing that we wouldn't see each other all summer must've been the epitome of heartache for our 10-year-old selves. And Scott* had a solution to ease the pain. He gave me a gift, a heart-shaped "gold" pendant hanging from a delicate necklace.
When I think about this now, I realize that he must've asked his mother for advice. I imagine that she helped him pick out the special present for his "friend" and I bet her heart broke a little knowing that he wanted to make another girl feel special, other than his mother.
Maybe he stole it from the local drugstore.
But knowing him, I doubt it.
When he gave me the necklace my heart raced. Not because I was so overcome with preteen emotion and the overwhelming urge to hug him. Not because I loved this token of affection. Not because I felt like the luckiest 4th-grader on the planet.
My hear raced because I was terrified.
What would I do with this gift? What would I tell my parents? Would they freak out? Would they make me return it? Would I be in trouble for having a "boyfriend"?
I held tightly to the forbidden treasure on the bus ride home, shielding it's beauty from anyone who might see it. The whole time, I was thinking about what I would do. I came up with a plan. I would hide the necklace.
I would hide it in my Easy Bake Oven.
I had a great relationship with my parents and I hadn't turned into the raging hormonal mess of a teenager that I would at about age 13. I have no idea why I was so embarrassed and ashamed to tell my mom about Scott* and his gift.
As it turns out, she knew anyway, and wasn't at all worried. She probably would have told me how nice it was that he gave me something so special and that I'd need to thank him properly.
But I never gave her the chance, because into the bottom of my Easy Bake Oven went my necklace. And off to the donation pile went the oven. And then it disappeared. And it was gone. Forever.
And I remember thinking, worrying, wondering if I'd left any fingerprints on it. Because surely the offense I had committed would be worth the FBI's time and energies!
I had quite an imagination.
I wish I still had that necklace so I could bring it out of my jewelry box and share it's story with my sons and daughter. They'll just have to settle with this story.
And someday, they will no longer wonder why I demand their silence when "Every Breath You Take" by The Police comes on the radio.
I didn't know that radio stations took requests from lovesick 10-year-old boys back then.