Childrearing

Why I’ll Totally Let My 5-Year-Old Go On A ‘Date’ For Valentine’s Day

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But when our little lovebirds wanted to celebrate Valentine’s Day together, this mom and I decided to let our kids have their fun. They might not see Fievel Goes West, but my daughter would be allowed to go see a movie with her kindergarten boyfriend. They couldn’t exchange jewelry, but they made Valentines. The little boy even got my daughter a stuffed fox holding a heart. Foxes happen to be my daughter’s very favorite animal. The fact that this little boy knew this and went to the trouble of finding a fox, specifically, is cute beyond words.

As much as it might make adults uncomfortable, kids have been falling in love, pretending to get married, and sneaking kisses on the playground since time before time. As much as we worry about sexualization and growing up too soon, this type of playing isn’t a modern phenomenon. It’s as classic as classic can be. It’s two little kids just pretending to be grown-ups.

Like most “adult” activities or feelings that kids try to emulate, I’ve begun to see that the less important it is to me, the less important it is to my daughter. When she wanted to wear make-up so she could be like mommy, I let her try it out. I didn’t immediately shut the idea down. I didn’t make a big deal about it. And now, my daughter sees make-up as something fun and silly, not as a serious issue to be considered.

My hope is that her little elementary-age romances will follow the same path. Forbidding them makes the boyfriend-girlfriend talk a big deal. Making a huge fuss over them teaches my daughter that these things are important. But childhood romance doesn’t need to be as grave and serious as adult romance. We can let it be just another fun and silly thing.

This weekend, my daughter will carefully pick out her clothes. She’ll probably wear her favorite red cowboy boots. They have a heel, which is super grown-up. Then she’ll climb into our SUV and head to a movie with a little boy that she claims to be getting married to. She and her date will sit in the row in front of their mothers, sharing popcorn and feeling oh so cool. After some pizza, they’ll hug goodbye.

And the world will keep turning. Brenna will still be a 5-year-old little girl, curling up with a stuffed fox and a baby blanket that night. Months from now, she and her little suitor will break up. She might even hold hands under the table with another little boy at school. But none of that will be all that important. Then, decades from now, I’ll get to tease my daughter about all of her young love in front the man or woman she finally decides to settle down with, just like my mom did.

(Photo: Warren Goldswain/Shutterstock)

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