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Happy Valentine's Day, indeed: My 7-year-old son's crush on an 'older girl'
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The valentine Carmen Rasmusen Herbert's son gave to him. She told him she wouldn't stop smiling for an entire month. - photo by Carmen Rasmusen Herbert
Sometimes my boys talk to me about girls. (That sentence made my oldest son giggle as he sat next to me while I was typing.) That type of giddy reaction is interesting for me to observe as their mother. I remember distinctly two years ago when my oldest was 5 and still at Mother Goose Preschool. He was eating lunch perched on our island stool nibbling on a little almond butter sandwich and slurping his Go-Gurt, and telling me he thought a girl in his class named Leah was so cute.

Two years later, my second son entered preschool and came home one day announcing he was now married to a darling girl with a blonde bob named Summer.

Even my 3-year-old Valentine's Day baby has been enamored with girls lately and has been infatuated with all things pink and sparkly. Recently, hes been on a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse kick and has been demanding I be Minnie (as in Minnie Mouse) and wont respond unless I raise my voice three octaves higher. He blushes actually blushes! when I talk to him in that sugar-sweet, sing-song voice. But then he turns on me, asking where his Nerf gun is so he can shoot me.

Its a very dysfunctional relationship.

I think its sweet that my boys still have crushes on their mama, and I know it will be very short-lived. I still remember thinking my dad was the greatest man in the whole world when I was little (and even now!) and begging him to talk to me like Sylvester the Cat because, as a 3-year-old, nothing was more attractive to me than a large animal with a lisp.

I was wondering how many more years it would be before my boys allowed another girl into their hearts (besides their adoring mama) when a few days leading up to Valentines Day, my oldest son announced that he needed a quarter to buy a Val-o-gram, a little love note/valentine you can purchase and send to someone special at school. Intrigued, I asked whom the Val-o-gram was for. He blushed.

Is it fora girl? I asked.

Yes, he responded, blushing an even deeper shade of red.

I smiled. Oh, really? A girl in your class?

No, he said. An older girl.

My eyes went wide. My little 7-year-old is sending a love note to an older girl? I was immediately jealous. And incredibly curious. Who was she? Did they meet on the playground? How much older? Should I be worried?

Whats her name? I pried.

Mom, dont ask me who its for until after I send it. I dont want to tell.

Hmm, OK, I said, putting some pomade in his hair and combing it over to the side, looking at this little boy with four missing teeth standing in front of the mirror getting his hair done, and wondering where his toddlerhood went. I suddenly ached for the days when the only girl in his life was me.

Well, after breakfast Ill look in my wallet and see if I have some change, I said.

No, thats OK, Boston said. I want to use my own money from my piggy bank.

Oh dear.

That morning as I dropped him off, I said, Dont forget to send your Val-o-gram at lunch!

I wont, he grinned and hurried out of the car.

All day long I was dying to know the name of this mystery girl who had my son spending his Tooth Fairy money. I had never seen him act so sneaky before, and I couldnt wait to hear who the lucky girl was that was on the receiving end of his thoughtfulness. And perhaps give him some wise counsel and advice.

When 3:30 p.m. finally came, I pulled around the horseshoe pick-up lane at school to wait for my son. Finally, I spotted him hurrying across the frosty ground.

Hey, Boston! I said as he got in the car. How was school? Did you end up buying your Val-o-gram? Did she like it?

So he said smiling, reaching into his backpack. Here you go!

He handed me a heart-shaped note made from pink and red construction paper, with eyes and wings, and he had written at the bottom: Mom, you are the #1 Best! This is a Val-o-gram. Love Boston. Attached to the wing was the 25-cent Val-o-gram with a Hershey kiss glued on top. To: Mom. I think youre a hootFrom: Boston. A little animated owl with heart-shaped eyes and flowers on its belly was staring back at me.

My heart melted.

Boston! I exclaimed, clutching the note. The older girl was me?

Yep! he said proudly.

I wanted to bawl. My sweet little boy was still sweet and little. And he picked me, his mother, to be his Valentine.

Sometimes I think about what it would be like to have a girl someone to dress up, take to dance class and giggle about boys with. But then I think how sad it would be to miss out on moments like these.

I am lucky enough to get to spend my days with five boys. Five! And for now, their lives still orbit around me. I know someday well spend lots of time giggling about girls, but I hope that doesnt happen for many, many more years. For now, I still have their hearts.

And they will always have mine.