I have been replaced as the main woman in my son’s life.
At five, he has a girlfriend. Actually, two. It would have been three, but one ran him over with her tricycle and that was the end of their relationship.
It used to be I was the woman who was worshipped. My son looked to me to define cool. I picked out his clothes. I was the authority on how tall he would be someday if he ate all his vegetables. I decided how his hair was cut. I decorated his room. I was THE woman.
But not anymore.
It all came to an end one day when Junior came home from preschool, brushed a hand across his brow and said, “I’ve had a hard day, Mom. Eva was chasing me and kissing me all day long.”
I don’t recall kissing in preschool. Actually, I don’t recall preschool. But I do recall my first kiss with Benny Nunez behind the backstop in the first grade. So I told Junior that he couldn’t kiss Eva* and that he should tell the teacher when Eva chased him.
But somehow I think my rule went unheeded. I mean, if a pretty girl chases you and kisses you, are you really going to tell the teacher?
No, not if you are Junior and whipped into shape by four-year old Eva. She is very picky, little Eva. If Junior dares to wear an uncool Bob the Builder shirt, she won’t be seen with him. He lets her have the good stuff from his lunch. And if I dare to remind him at dinner about vegetables and their associated growing properties, well, Eva can contradict me even if she isn’t there.
I do not think I would be a good mother-in-law to Eva.
You see, I’m a little tired of Eva’s demands. First, Junior’s hair wasn’t right. It was flat, not spiky. And it didn’t have dyed tips. Junior begged for spiky, died tips just like another boy in school. A boy Eva thought was cool. Each day, I was told heart-wrenching stories of how Eva liked the other boy better. And if Junior could just have dyed spikes in his hair too, Eva would like him again.
I started to give in. I really did. I figured it didn’t matter and I could cut the spikes off before kindergarten started in September.
But my husband was not one with that plan. And neither was my sister, our hairdresser. I was sure as heck not going to dye the tips of my wiggling five-year old’s hair. So we bought hair gel that is colored.
It didn’t go over well with Eva.
Junior thought he was one cool dude, with yellow gunk in his hair, spiking it up perfectly. Junior’s marital arts instructor thought it looked like a dinosaur egg had been cracked on Junior’s head. I even thought Junior was nuts. It took two hair washings every night to get the yellow gunk out of his hair so it didn’t stain his pillowcase.
Most important, Eva thought he was a geek and the chasing and kissing stopped.
It looked like heartbreak for my boy, but the unthinkable happened. A new girl came to preschool. Eva got replaced.
Oh, the fickle heart of a pre-kindergartner.
At first, the new girl was only called “girlfriend”. Junior has trouble remembering names, the same trouble his father has (his father also has trouble with dates, so I remind him of every birthday and anniversary well ahead of time). Anyway, after a few days of my prodding, Junior discovered that “girlfriend’s” real name was Madison.
Madison worshipped Junior, but didn’t really want to change him the way Eva did. This was an incredibly good thing. She didn’t care about how Junior looked. She didn’t care if his clothes were cool or not. She didn’t tell him that the Blue’s Clues Applesauce Junior adores is only for babies. She didn’t chase him and kiss him.
Madison would make a great daughter-in-law.
Unfortunately, Madison came along just as Junior’s preschool experience ended. He’s a big boy now, you know. He starts kindergarten in September and his two younger women won’t be there.
I’m sure we’ll start the same cycle over again. I can only hope that Junior learns to run faster and that his next crush likes him the way he is—flat hair, uncool school uniforms and all.
*Names have been changed to protect my future daughters-in-law.
This is a Flashback Friday post, where I relive Junior’s cute phase, which totally makes up for his current smart-mouthed teen phase. This appeared in the newspapers and also Chicken Soup for the Soul Celebrates Mothers.