One day at some point last school year, my then 3-year-old came home from his Pre-K3 class telling me about his “best BEST friend (insert girl’s name).” They played together and had the BEST day! Talk about music to my vulnerable momma ears – you see, after Christmas break, we switched schools to a program that was geographically closer to our house even though we LOVED his prior school, we felt like it would be better for our family to be closer to where we lived. Just so there are no questions, we LOVE our new school too!
Fast forward through his 4th birthday party where said friend attended with her mom. After chatting for just a few minutes, we discovered that we lived right around the corner from each other, a small world! The sweet friends continued to go to class through the summer session together and this school year is together again in their Pre-K4 class. We’ve attended her birthday party and we’ve had just a few playdates. Just simple, kid-friendly, fun times. Neither I nor her mom has EVER mentioned anything about boyfriend / girlfriends, we just “ooh and ahh” over how sweet they are together, it warms our heart to know that they have each other at school and they genuinely take care of each other.
Recently, we attended a school field trip to a local pumpkin patch. When we arrived, my son gladly spoke to all of his friends and eventually linked up with his best BEST friend and us moms were just along for the day’s adventures. For the 3 hours that we were there I was approached by FOUR separate moms on four separate occasions who each asked and explained a version of “Are you his mom? My daughter talks about him ALL OF THE TIME. He’s her boyfriend and I hear all about him!” as their daughters hid away in embarrassment since mom spilled her secret. I wasn’t sure what response they were looking for, I replied: “I hope he’s friendly with everyone, that’s what we try to teach him.”
The more I thought about it, the more the word got under my skin. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. On the one hand, I was beaming with pride that he was being so sweet that each of these little girls thought the world of him. On the other hand, I think I was visibly cringing by the time the fourth mom said the word “boyfriend.”
Maybe I didn’t understand the meaning of the word. So, in true blogger fashion, I did a quick search. The simplest definition after skimming through several versions is a male companion with which one has a romantic or sexual relationship.
My son is your daughter’s what?!
Before things get completely out of hand, I do not for one second think that my son has had any romantic or sexual relationships with any of your daughters. I don’t even think that you think that they have had that type of encounter. That’s my point.
They are four years old Mommas. I’m not ready. I’m not ready for the questions that come along with giving four-year-old friendships adult labels. This specific word is not appropriate. We have always encouraged him to be nice to everybody and treat everyone kindly. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we are friends with everyone, but we aren’t unkind.
My heart was overwhelmed to see him open doors for his friends and graciously let his friends go ahead of him taking turns and offer help whenever he thought anyone needed it. These gestures weren’t limited to just the girls in his class though, he did the same for the boys too. Not one of the boy’s moms informed me that he was their son’s boyfriend.
When a boy is kind to another boy they can be friends, but when a boy is kind to a girl he is all of a sudden her boyfriend … right …?
Yet, if he had been unkind to your daughter, the dialogue would have gone something along the lines of “Oh, he just wants to be your boyfriend.” See the pickle? Whether my son is kind or not, your daughter needs a boyfriend at 4 years old.
Can we please just not put grown-up labels on their first little friendships?
They already grow up too fast. Maybe my pregnancy hormones are getting the best of me on this one. I simply don’t agree with giving their sweet, innocent friendships adult-sized labels. Whether they are boys are girls, why can’t they just be “best BEST friends” (as my son says) or better yet even just FRIENDS?