Thursday, February 4, 2010

Will You Marry Me?

Shabbat #5

Guests: Jill and Brett and their 5 year old daughter C. I originally met Brett and Jill through biking and a mutual friend. We never bike together anymore and seldom see that mutual friend -- proof to me that this friendship is the real thing.

Menu: Chicken Parmesan with Fire-Roasted Tomatoes, Steamed Broccoli, Toby's Whole Wheat Challah, S'Mores

Lesson Learned:

Two years ago shortly after I had Sarah, Ben came home from school and announced that he was "going to marry C. and make her tummy big."

Fortunately Ben is 5 and not 15.

While Ben's actual articulation of his feelings for C. never ceases to amaze me, I am not surprised by the target of his affections. Ben has known C. forever. Literally. Jill and I were pregnant together and spent lots of time bemoaning the havoc that pregnancy wreaks on the female form. When the kids were born we took "epic" stroller walks to reverse these effects and occupy our newborns in a way that did not require us to engage in "tummy time" or "peek-a-boo".

There has not been a time when C. was not Ben's "girlfriend." I can't remember when Ben actually told me that this was so. I am sure I thought it was cute and probably called Jill to report on the budding romance, but I certainly did not suspect that the announcement would be so ... permanent. If I had I most certainly would have marked it in the baby book. (Something I did when I only had one kid).

C. and Ben started out at the same school. (OK - daycare, but calling it "school" makes me feel like a better mother). They were never in the same classroom, but rendezvoused on the playground together. They've celebrated New Year's and birthdays. The best Valentine always goes to C. One year he even gave her a ring pop.

Last fall C. moved onto a new school. I thought that would be the end of the relationship. I was wrong. Just a few weeks ago Ben came home and announced that girlfriends are better than best buddies. Why Ben? Because you can marry your girlfriend and live with her forever. He was talking about C. Pretty profound for a 5 year old. Or a 39 year old.

Not to be boastful, but Ben is a catch. He could get some play on the playground if you know what I mean. But his love for C. is steadfast even after 5 years. Last time I committed myself to someone for that long I married him.

This got me to thinking.

Puppy love at age 5 is cute. Ben's adoration for C. is completely uncomplicated. Which also means it is completely uncomplicated for me. But I know that won't always me the case.

Seems like every time I find myself complaining to a friend with older kids about the trying times of parenting a 2-year old and a 5-year old they have to go and remind me that it only gets harder. Really? Thanks. Then they launch into the same monologue about how the problems get bigger and your handling (or mishandling) of the situation becomes even more critical. Are you serious? Please point me to the closest bridge. I'd like to jump off.

And that whole puppy love thing. Cute when they are 5, but what about when they are 15. Suddenly you're going to need to worry about whether the bedroom door is open.

So I asked Jill. What are you going to do if these two are still exclusive 10 years from now? She told me that while she was sure I would love it, she'd probably encourage C. to cast the line. A bit surprising given that Jill married her college sweetheart instead of sowing her oats into her 30's. Or maybe not. She does know a fair amount about Ben's gene pool.

Me? Well I think it would be pretty great if Ben stuck with C. There is something to be said for going with your first instinct. It's just like at the grocery when you change lines hoping to get a faster check out. Invariably your second choice puts you right behind the guy that needs a price check. Plus, I had a boyfriend in preschool. His name was Chip. I think my mom once told me that he turned out okay. And with a name like Chip I surely wouldn't have missed a lurid story about him on the 5 o'clock news. (Note to self: Google Chip).

Last Rosh Hashanah I stood before our congregation and announced that I was going to slow down. Savor each Shabbat and the moments with family and friends. I'm sticking with that promise. So I won't worry about Ben's love life quite yet. Or all of the other complications my friends keep warning me are coming. Life is complicated enough as it is.

(But if he picks C. I approve).

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