Sunday, April 8, 2018

Reminiscing: A Kindergarten Romance

Whenever my kids talk about boyfriends, I cringe just a little bit and I try to change the subject. The twins are not quite fourteen yet, Corliss just turned twelve, and Josephine is eight, but they’ve all been talking about boyfriends since they were in preschool and kindergarten. I know it’s inevitable that they’re going to talk about boyfriends, but I’d like to hold off as long as possible. Besides, it’s not like I was totally innocent in my own youth exuberance.

Way back in kindergarten at Washington Hunt, it was the fall of 1979. Very early in our half day, morning classes there, the teacher had us go around the room and tell everyone when our birthdays were. There were three of us with the same exact birthday of December 7th -- me, Joey Anderson, and the girl who I would call my “kindergarten wife.” I’ll simply call her “S” for the purpose of this article.

There was a mutual friendship formed almost immediately. When we went outside for recess, I would hang out with her and her friends. Or, I would climb the backstop behind the kickball diamond. (I didn’t climb very high. There were some boys who would really climb high. That wasn’t for me.) Sometimes, we’d run along the giant tractor tires that made up the focus of our playground.

I talked about her all the time at home. “S” this and “S” that. I proudly told my parents that I was going to marry her. I was five years old. At a Mother’s Day tea and luncheon in our classroom, I somehow finagled it that my mother and I would be sitting at the same table as she and her mother. Honestly, I have no idea how it even worked out, but I thought it was a wonderful sign.

At that tea, I told “S’s” mother that someday we were going to get married. In the mock seriousness only a mother can muster, she asked how I planned to support her daughter. I was ready for the question.

“My mom and dad have a family room in the basement where we can live until we graduate and are able to get jobs. We can save allowance money until then.” I was proud of my answer even if she and my own mother laughed at the audacity of it all. I was five or six. What did I know?

“S” went to school with me for kindergarten and first grade. Then she moved away, and I never heard from her again. We have mutual friends, though. I saw her on a friend’s Facebook page. I thought about asking to be friends there, but really, why? We haven’t seen each other or spoken in nearly forty years. (Holy cow. I can’t believe it’s been THAT long since I was in kindergarten.)

I think nearly every kid has that one special someone in kindergarten that is their boyfriend or girlfriend. We laugh about them now, but we were serious. Any parent can tell you, a five year old pact is a very serious thing. We weren’t joking, even when we saw the smirks from Mom and Dad at the dinner table.

My oldest three are rapidly moving into real dating life. Teenagers will give even the calmest of parents heartburn when it comes to dating. Even though I didn’t really like the boyfriends from kindergarten, I’d gladly trade for it now that there are hormonal boys calling them. The worst is when you get home from work and one of them is sitting on the couch. Now I know why Wendy’s parents weren’t thrilled when I was hanging around.

We’ve all heard of high school romances blossoming into marriages and families. Although Wendy and I went to different high schools, we met and started dating while we were still in high school. There are even some junior high romances, I’m sure. But are there relationships that started in early elementary years, went through the trials and tribulations of junior and senior high school to survive into marriage? I’m sure there are, but I haven’t met any yet.

What’s your story? Who was that special someone from way back in kindergarten? Do you still see them? I know Wendy has the very occasional contact with her kindergarten romance. She went to a small school, so they knew each other all the way through to graduation. I think we tend to lose track of those people from so long ago as we get older and develop into different people with different friends.

Craig Bacon is very glad he didn’t go to school with Wendy. If she knew him then, and through those tricky junior high years, she would have likely said, “No thank you.”