Monday, April 02, 2007

Crushes, Then and Now

I had my first crush when I was in Grade 2. His name was Robert. He was the tallest and most handsome boy in the class. He was the smartest too. I’d like to pat myself in the back right now for my impeccable taste in men (hmmm)!

But I could never tell anybody about my secret love … and for the longest time, I feared that I was some kind of freak or something for having those confusing and oh-so-awkward feelings for that boy. I’m sure you know how it was. We’ve all been though it … the fast-beating heart we just knew everybody could hear, those telling blushes, the stammering, the not being able to look our object of affection directly in the eyes … the need to stay as far away as possible lest he’d notice how flustered or breathless we’ve become … And oh! how can we forget … that secret hope we nurtured deep inside that he felt exactly the same way towards us! Do you remember how even that most accidental of glances towards our direction could send us to seventh heaven?

Would it have been easier for me if I were told that my feelings were normal? All those years, guilt accompanied my secret sighs. I could not get over the thought that I should not be feeling those yet … being too young and all. I wonder until now how I got into that mind frame.

On hindsight, I wished that I were told it was ok. But would I say that to my own daughter? Now comes another matter. She already had crushes at 4 years of age. The very first to hold that distinction was Tim of Nickelodeon’s High 5 followed by Sportacus of Lazytown. Those did not raise my red flags yet. But lately though, she “graduated” to a boy in Grade 3, and unlike me who was determined to take my secret to my grave, she had no qualms about showing it to everybody. She even made him sit beside her during mass and declared afterwards that she was not washing her hand because he held it during the singing of The Lord’s Prayer!

She just turned seven! I’m freaking out here!!! Do I hear echoes out there?

How can I tell her that it is normal to like or admire a boy without telling her that it’s ok? Did that sound confused? That’s because I am! I don’t want to cloud Abby’s young mind with outdated prejudices. I want her to develop a healthy attitude towards boy-girl relationships but let her know at the same time that it is still too early for her to be thinking of these matters. (If her father could have his way, she could start thinking of crushes only after he has turned 30!) I wish I could find the proper balance: let her know that it’s normal without sounding too liberated or consenting about it. My fear now is that she might declare having a boyfriend by the time she reaches grade 2! Oh my God! Maboang ko ana!!!

It seems that I’m not alone in this. I’ve spoken with similar-minded parents voicing out these same concerns. My friend Chedette is handling this with 8-year old Carla by simply saying: “You’re not allowed!” Period. And I could see Tita Nini’s hackles rising at the mere thought of 6-year old Cody having crushes already. Mayet and Rudy have it easy. Their daughter Dom would burst into tears when teased about boys.

But can we really stop this from happening? That would be like wanting to stop the tides from turning. Everyday, our children are bombarded with heavy doses of love and romance. As I am writing this, Abby is watching a scene from Happy Feet showing two penguins falling in love. Even Disney Channel, Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, supposedly child-oriented stations, seem incapable of veering away from this theme.

It is everywhere and our children, smart as they are, could not fail to notice and take in its significance. Can we blame them? Never. What then can we do as parents? As of now, I am doing the ostrich’s act … you know, bury my head in the sand? I’m at a loss about what to do, so I’m doing nothing. I wish I could have Chedette’s certainty as to the course of action she is taking. But I feel that I need to do more than that … only that I do not know what that is yet!

Motherhood … could any job be more difficult?

1 comment:

anton joaquin said...

Dear Ms. Sarmiento,
Pafdon the use of this comment box but I could not find an email that I cn use to reach you.

I am Tony Joaquin, nephew of UNCLE NICK JOAQUIN, currently writing his biography.

I have read your short essay about meeting Nick in a series of occasions but I thought you might want to add a more incisive commentary about your view of this old man not his works buthis humanity.
My email address is: