"Mama, tomorrow I'm going to tell Joseph that he's my boyfriend."
We're lying in the dark, having just turned out the lights for bed, when Julia makes her big announcement. I immediately feel my stomach clench up. Joseph has been Julia's super-secret preschool "boyfriend" for months now, and I, for one, have been happy to keep this little secret between us.
"Really, Juje? Why?"
"I just want to tell him."
"Hmmm...I'm not sure that's such a good idea, Juje."
(Umm. Because you're 3.) "It might make him a little nervous or shy, Juje." (Or, worse, he might make fun of you and rip both of our hearts to shreds.)
"I just really want him to know, mama."
"Well, Juje, maybe you could just say that you think he's a really nice boy? You don't have to say that he's your boyfriend." (Right. Good one. Nothing wrong with saying that he's a really nice boy.)
"But he is my boyfriend, Mama."
"What makes him your boyfriend, Juje?"
"Well...he told me that the clip in my hair was pretty."
"But, I mean, are there things about Joseph that you really like?"
"Well...it's mostly just the clip thing."
With that, we go to bed. But the next morning, Julia wakes up still intent on her plan. I fill Will in on what's about to go down and we decide to talk to Julia about it together. We both try to convince her that it might be best to just tell Joseph that he's a really nice boy, but Julia is steadfast in her desire to declare her love.
"Well, then, mama, will you come to school and tell Joseph that he's my boyfriend?"
"Oh, Juje..." I sigh, and distract her with breakfast while I try to figure out why this is so important to her. But as I'm rushing around the house getting Charlie ready to go, I hear: "Mama, how do you spell 'I love you'?"
She's sitting at her table with a blue marker poised above a piece of notebook paper.
"Are you writing a note for Joseph, Juje?"
I stutter for a second and then blurt out:
"Juje—I don't think you're allowed to pass notes at school."
Julia's eyes start to well up with tears. And I reluctantly agree to help her with the note. She writes: "I (heart shape) U, Julia," which takes up so much room on the page that she's forced to scatter the letters J, o, s, e, p, h around the edges like confetti, in such random order that the "Joseph" is completely illegible.
We fold up the note and put it in Julia's back pocket. Where I wish it would stay. But, when I drop her off at school, I wish her luck and drive home to wait. When I pick her up later, I'm suddenly 13 years old, bursting to ask the minute I get her in the car:
"Did you give Joseph the note?"
"And what happened?" I'm literally sitting on the edge of my seat.
"Well, he doesn't know how to read, mama, so he didn't know what it said."
(Oh. Right. Phew.) I lean back, relieved. But then:
"Did you tell him what it said?"
"Well, what did he say when you gave him the note?"
"He just said 'Thanks,'" Julia shrugs, looking out the window. But she seems satisfied to have delivered the message regardless.
It seems Valentine's Day has come a bit early to the Rousmaniere household. By about 10 or 15 years. I'm guessing I should brace myself for puberty?
Join FitPregnancy.com's Managing Editor Dana Rousmaniere each week as she chronicles life with a new baby.
Read the next entry: 2.4.08: Hurricane Charlie