We took the boys to the playground after Dylan’s nap. (Yay! He still naps!) We thought it might rain later and wanted then to get in some outdoor play time. At one point, the hubby was pushing Dylan in the toddler swing, and Parker decided he wanted to swing. A little girl was swinging next to the one Parker chose.
When Parker asked me to give him a push, I started telling how to pump his legs so he could swing without a push. That’s when the little girl said, “You don’t know how to swing?”
Parker, a little embarassed, hopped off the swing. I gave him a little pep talk, and told him not knowing how to do something is nothing to be embarassed about, because you can always learn. (After all, I’m 41 years old and just learning how to swim.) I told him never to let what other people say stop him from trying to learn. I got him back on the swing, and got him started learning how to do it himself. When the little girl started in with “You don’t know how to swing?” I shot back “Everybody’s gotta learn sometime, right? Nobody’s born knowing how to swing.” (Her dad backed me up, reminding her that she’d had to learn too.)
I took it as the usual teasing between kids on the playground, and hoped I helped Parker learn how to deal with it. But what seemed like teasing was most likely a kind of first grade flirtation. What clued me in was the exchange I caught between Parker and the same little girl a few minutes later.
The little girl and her younger brother had moved from the swings to the seesaw by this point, and when I looked up I noticed Parker playing them on the seesaw. A few minutes later, they’d hopped off the seesaw. That’s when I heard Parker and the girl talking to each other. It was a few second, and I’d have missed it if I happened to be focused elsewhere. But I wasn’t, and here’s what I heard.
Little Girl: You’re adorable.
Parker: So are you. (Looks over and notices I’m listening.) … Just kidding!
(They both laugh, and run off to play some more.)
I later confirmed that something like the above indeed happened when I asked Parker what they said to each other. He didn’t confirm. Instead he blushed a little and said “Dad, that something just between kids that parents don’t want to know.” I let it go at that.
I’m biased, of course, but Parker’s always been a good looking kid. Plus he’s tall for his age; taller than many of the boys in the first grade, and even as tall as or taller than some second graders. Apparently, he’s the first grade equivalent of “tall, dark, and handsome.”
At least twice we’ve had parents come up to us and tell us how much their daughters like Parker. He’s nice. He’s smart. He’s a good reader. He’s funny, they tell us. One mom mentioned how Parker wouldn’t let the other kids pick on her daughter. Another said her daughter came home every day with a story of something funny Parker said or did, and wanted to invite Parker to her birthday party.
There have been other inklings. There was the school picnic we attended with Parker, where a girl in his class came over to say hello, and then said to Parker, “I’m so gonna chase you when you finish eating.” (Parker grinned sheepishly.) Sure enough, everywhere I saw Parker I would see her — even though often times he seemed oblivious to her presence, as he was playing with other boys. And at almost every party, there’s at least one little girl whose playing with Parker or following/chasing him around. He doesnt’ seem to mind it. In fact, he seems to enjoy it.
After one party, I took an informal poll of the women in my office, who unanimously confirmed that girls start noticing boys well before boys start paying attention to girls. “You guys,” said one, “stay clueless for a long time.” They also confirmed that girls at that age especially like boys who are nice to them, who don’t pick on them, etc. Parker, apparently, fits the bill.
At seven, Parker’s still somewhere between thinking girls are “yucky” to being oblivious, aloof, or indifferent where girls are concerned. But girls seem to like Parker, and it’s clear that he enjoys the attention, and maybe even likes girls — in a seven-year-old, kinda-sorta way.
I expect the “maybe” and “kinda-sorta” part will fall away as he get’s older. Probably sooner than I, as a parent, would like to think. But the overheard flirtation on the playground was cute.