Despite the fact that more and more marriages seem to be falling apart these days, I still remain an avowed believer in marriage as an institution.
In fact, I'd even go so far as saying that marriage is a truly vital cog in our societal machine. Dating's fine, living together is great, but I like to believe that anyone who is truly in love eventually looks at their partner and thinks, "I want to cut down on having sex with this person and get on their dental plan."
Ok, not really.
Recently I had dinner with an old friend of mine. He asked me what it was like to be single at the age of 41. I told him things would be much easier if I were one of those guys who could actually date a 25 year old. Unfortunately, I find myself to be in that seemingly rare minority of men who find maturity in women an attractive feature.
My buddy laughed and then reminded me about how when I was 25, I used to tell women on the first date, "I think I love you. Let's go get married and have lots of children."
Obviously I wasn't serious. When I was 25, marriage was the furthest possible thing from my mind. What can I say? I was an immature 25 year old.
Apparently, marriage seems to be on my 5-year-old daughter's mind a lot these days.
It all started a few months ago when the Peanut came home and announced that her friend "Dane" had pronounced his love for her and told her that today was their "anniversary." He also told the Peanut that they were going to get married some day.
Naturally, this led to some hilarious conversations with the Peanut about marriage. After much profound deliberation and serious consideration, the Peanut informed us that she thought she was too young to get married right now and wanted to wait until she was older. And in a statement that had BossLady and I both running to our respective shrinks, she also said "Unless I want to have kids, I'm not sure I'll ever get married!"
Fast forward to this past Sunday.
The Peanut had her first ballet recital at a local dance studio. Much to our surprise, her little friend Dane not only came to see the Peanut's performance, he also brought her a bouquet of flowers!
It was only then that BossLady and I truly realized the wonderfully beautiful bond that she and Dane had. After BossLady took the Peanut to school on Monday, she sent me the following e-mail:
Dane is moving and this Friday is his last day. Peanut started making him a Good Luck Book - with all these drawings. And we made a friendship key chain for him. So he came yesterday to her recital. He and his mom brought flowers and Silly Bands as a gift.
So, this morning, I had Peanut make a Thank You card. "Thank you for the silly bands and the pretty flowers. I love them. I love you. From Peanut". On the front of the card, she drew a picture of her and Dane with hearts everywhere.
We get to school this morning. As soon as we get there, Dane sees her and goes up to her. One of her friends is teasing Dane that he loves the Peanut. Dane doesn't care about the teasing! Peanut says nothing. She just opens up her bag and gives the card to Dane. He reads the card out loud and I hear him say, "I'm going to save this card forever." He seriously loves Peanut. And it is the cutest thing! All the kids were teasing them that they were going to get married. And Dane didn't care. He was saying which kids could be the flower girl and the flower boy. He pulls out the card to show more friends.
I wish you could have seen it. I adore this boy! I adore him for adoring our daughter.
That night was my turn to have custody of the Peanut. As soon as we got home, I asked her about her relationship with Dane. She started telling me how much she's really going to miss Dane when he moves. Even though she sometimes found the talk about marriage a little annoying, she said that she was truly sad that she wasn't going to see Dane when he moves.
So I asked her (half as a joke,) “So Peanut, have you and Dane ever kissed?”
Peanut: “Only once.”
Me: “Seriously, are you kidding me? You kissed each other? Or he kissed you? And where exactly did he kiss you?”
Peanut: “Don’t worry, daddy. I didn’t kiss him. He kissed me on the cheek.”
Me: “What did you say to him?”
Peanut: “I said, Dane, there’s no kissing allowed in school. You know the rules.”
OH MY FUCKING GOD!
I immediately sent an e-mail to BossLady telling her about this conversation. She subsequently forwarded my e-mail to Dane's mom. As if our hearts couldn't melt any further from all the cuteness, Dane's mom thanked us for telling her about our conversation. She then proceeded to tell us that the cuteness was practically driving her to tears. Especially when she walked into Dane's room that day and saw him making "invitations" to the wedding!
I'm always amazed at how kids of each ensuing generation seem to be so much more mature than I was as a child. I remember being in a car with my college girlfriend and her 5-year-old sister back in 1990. At one point in the conversation, we heard this little voice from the backseat proclaim, "Can you guys stop speaking to me for a little while? I need my space."
Granted, the kid was being raised in L.A....but still.
But my own daughter? Talking about marriage? Honestly discussing her true feelings about a boy?
Maybe kids do really mature faster these days but whenever I think about this story, I recall being 5 years old and having a crush on my neighbor Brina. Maybe I was just a socially retarded dork back then because the only way I expressed my feelings for her were by pulling her pigtails and pushing her in the mud!
At the end of the day, I still sometimes see myself as that socially retarded 5-year-old dork.
But maybe Marie Ebner-Eschenbach was right when she said, "In youth we learn; in age we understand."
And while I truly and wholeheartedly agree with that quote, recent experiences of being the father of a 5 year old remind me more of that old adage: "the days are long but the years go by fast."
Now, all I can think about is walking the Peanut down the aisle at her wedding.
As if I needed more fodder for my age-old insomnia!
Portrait of the artist as a young ballerina...