My 3-year-old flashes me a mega-watt smile every morning when I wake him up and he still squeals with delight every afternoon when I walk into his class at daycare to pick him. At night he cuddles with me in the recliner clutching his race car cup of milk. I squeeze him tight and stroke his head, he reciprocates with his sweet baby hands on my cheek, and we gaze into each other’s eyes for minutes on end until he drifts off into slumber. Yup, I sure love my baby boy and he sure loves his Mommy.
And, as I’ve recently learned, he also loves Ashley.
Little Miss Ashley (not her real name, see below*) has been a classmate of Matthew’s since they were two. While Matthew has always contributed and participated in class, he still tended to play on his own. It wasn’t uncommon for me to enter the classroom and see all the kids in groups and little Matthew over in the corner happily playing by himself. Then Ashley came. Now I receive reports from his teachers that he and Ashley play together all day and that after outside playtime, they re-enter the classroom together holding hands! They’ve become so attached that sometimes the teachers have to separate them during group time or table time so that they are forced to interact with the other students, and apparently they are none too happy when this occurs. Now when I arrive to pick him up, he still squeals in delight and runs to me, but then stops and says “Wait Mommy, I have to say goodbye to Ashley”. And then they go and they hug and they wave and they say to each other “Bye Ashley/Matthew, I’ll see you tomorrow, ok?” And then the other says “ok”. Really?
I’m not sure how I feel about this! Hubs thinks its cute. Lila thinks its hilarious. She teases him every day in a sing-song voice that Ashley is his girlfriend, but is it really teasing if he doesn’t actually deny it or even get upset?! Not that he’s ever actually referred to Ashley as his “girlfriend”, thank goodness. What he does say, though, all day, every day, at every waking moment, without anyone ever actually asking him, is that “Ashley is my best friend”. When I hear this for the 1,007th time at dinner a few nights ago I sulkily ask, “Matty, what about Mommy? Am I still your best friend too?” He responds, “No, Ashley”. And then, to add insult to injury, he adds “Ashley’s very beautiful” With the way this conversation is going, I guess I should have already known better, but I can’t help myself. Pitifully this time, I ask, “Is Mommy beautiful too?” His salt-in-wound response: “No, Mommy. Just Ashley’s beautiful”.
I was not prepared for this. Nobody ever told me these kinds of things could happen. I expected the usual lot that comes with having a toddler/preschooler: potty-training, tantrums, the need to have an ever-present supply of goldfish crackers on hand or else. But falling in love? Nope. Wasn’t ready.
I suppose I could look on the bright side of things: how he’s more social and verbal in school now, and how he no longer cries at drop off as he used to do every single morning, despite us having the same routine for like the past 692 days. And things are since looking up in respect to me returning to tops in his heart. Just last night while cuddling in the recliner, he squeezes my cheeks with both hands, says he wants to give me eleven kisses, sloppily gives me thirteen kisses instead, and then tells me he loves me “very a lot”.
I’ll take that.
I wrap my arms around him and wrap myself in the smug comfort of knowing that he reserved those sweet words for me and not Ashley. Or did he?!
And then, with a sigh, I realize that even if he didn’t, I guess I couldn’t really blame him. Even I have to admit, Ashley is the cutest thing in pigtails around.
*I’ll say I’m calling her Ashley to protect her identity, but really it’s to keep her parents from coming after my sweet boy!