And I really shouldn’t have been forced to.
When I was seven, a little boy liked me. I was in second grade, he was in first grade. We never associated with each other, he just thought I was pretty. I didn’t like him “that way,” but that part shouldn’t matter. Not when I’m seven. No one had any business liking someone “that way” back then, because it simply wasn’t time yet. I remember being really ashamed that someone had a “crush” on me, and even more ashamed that he was a grade lower. I didn’t want this crush to be happening, I wanted it to stop and go away. I didn’t understand what I’d done wrong to bring it upon me. Can you imagine trying to actually deal with unwanted romantic advances at seven years old?
I didn’t think about boys that way yet. But a boy happened to me anyway. The 38-year-old I am now is so angry at and let down by the adults around me at the time, for indulging the infatuation of a little boy and throwing the emotional wellbeing of a little girl to wolves. I haven’t thought about this memory in a long time, probably because I wanted to forget it. But forgetting doesn’t help. Understanding what I actually took from it however, just might.
The little boy wanted to go on a date with me. His mother asked my mother if I could go to dinner with him and his family. I didn’t want to go. I was so embarrassed that the question was even being asked of me. I was so scared my friends would find out. I remember being horrified that this was progressing from teasing (from teachers) in school and out into the actual real world. While I can’t remember if I ever said “no” out loud, it wouldn’t have mattered. I was going. Totally normal, right? Make a second grade girl go on an actual fucking date with a first grade boy? How sweet.
I remember how the adults around me indulged his “crush,” seeing it as adorable. Making me feel bad for not wanting to indulge it, as if that was my responsibility as the little girl in the scenario. His little crush made me feel a subconscious-splintering amount of shame and helplessness. I was seven fucking years old. Crushes aren’t cute. They are early. I was told, at seven, just how wrong I was for being anything other than flattered.
He and his family picked me up at my house. He came to the door with flowers. I remember…