Sometime after New Year’s and before St. Patrick’s Day this year, my 8-1/2 year old son developed a new crush.  He went out of his way to tell the object of his affection that she was beautiful, that he loved her, and wanted to spend lots of time with her.  In general he went out of his way to romance her.  He held her face in his hands when he gave her little kisses, snuggled with her at every opportunity, and he even put his arm around her as they walked through the mall.

Much to my surprise, I wasn’t the least bit jealous of this new crush.  You see, I am the one he’s crushing on.  Yes, me.  Mom!  It happened so quickly it took me by surprise but I’ve learned a whole new love language in the last few months.  Things like:

What he says: “Hey Mom, wanna’ go outside and play basketball?”
What he means: “I’ve learned a couple of new shots and I want you to see me make them.”

What he says: “Hey Mom, Star Wars: The Clone Wars is coming on!”
What he means: “This is my favorite show and I want to share it with you.”

What he says: “Hey Mom, want some ice cream?”
What he means: “I want some ice cream but only if you’ll have some, too.”

What he says: “Hey Mom, are you coming upstairs?”
What he means: “I’m going to bed and I want one more hug before I go to sleep.”

My son has taken a huge step towards becoming a man.  He’s learning what it means to have a relationship that is not all about him.  He’s taking risks in a safe environment to make sure he gets it right.  The affirmation and attention I give him now will, to some degree, teach him what to expect from a ‘real’ girlfriend down the road.  If I shun him, he will learn to expect rejection.  If I can validate and encourage his attempts, he will learn that he has something of value to offer.  This is a dress rehearsal for life in all of its glory, with all of its challenges.

He is unashamedly crushing on his Mom.

And you better believe I’m crushing on him, too.

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