Love and Marriage—by Jamie Levine
In anticipation of Valentine’s Day, Jayda’s nursery school class has been learning about Cupid, the Roman God of love. One of Jayda’s teachers laughingly told me that most of the kids in the class were promising to “duck” when Cupid shot his arrow, so it wouldn’t hit them—and they wouldn’t fall in love. Then, the other day, Jayda came home from school and informed me that one of her male friends had said he was her “boyfriend,” and had told her that he was going to marry her. I smiled, since I’m quite fond of this young boy, and asked Jayda what her response had been. She put her hand on her hip, looked me straight in the eye, and vehemently exclaimed, “I said ‘no’!”
A few days later, when I shared this marriage proposal story with Jayda’s teacher, she responded that this was a switch, since most of the kids in the class insisted they were going to marry their mommies. The mother of Jayda’s “boyfriend” also agreed that her kid usually claimed he was going to marry her (and was happy about his new choice of bride!). I guess this makes sense, since most kids adore their mommies—and four-year-olds certainly don’t have a good grasp of the concept of marriage.
I’m a single mom, and Jayda and I never talk about marriage—except in the abstract, when she’s playing dress-up and aspiring to live “happily ever after” with a prince. I once made the mistake of informing her that if I ever did get married, we’d move out of the house we live in with her Grandma and Poppy, and live somewhere else with my new husband; she cried hysterically. I wasn’t even dating at the time.
But now I am dating…and pretty seriously, too—though I’ve never articulated this fact to Jayda. I’ve never referred to Library Guy as my “boyfriend” in front of her, and I don’t believe she’s ever seen us kiss. The man we met at the library with his two boys over four months ago has simply become a presence in our lives. Sometimes Library Guy comes over to pick me up for a date, and spends a few minutes with Jayda while I grab my purse, and other times I simply inform my daughter that her Grandma and Poppy will be putting her to bed because I’m going out with Library Guy that night. I believe in being honest with my kid, so when Library Guy calls me and Jayda asks who’s on the phone, I tell her; but I’ve never explained that he’s more than a friend, or told Jayda why I want to spend so much time with this guy. And she’s never asked. Jayda adores Library Guy, and seems to have welcomed him into our lives without question.
However, the other day, while Jayda and I were cuddling on the couch, she inexplicably blurted out, “I don’t want you to marry Library Guy!” and started to cry. I took a deep breath and explained, “Honey—I’m not marrying anyone any time soon…maybe not ever. But why are you so upset? Don’t you like Library Guy?” She nodded her head enthusiastically. I continued, “Do you like him a lot?” She nodded again. But then she burst out “I don’t want you to get married and leave me!” I calmly told her, “Jayda, if I ever get married, I’m not leaving you. Not ever! Whomever I marry, you’re marrying, too—it’s a package deal.” But instead of soothing her, my words made Jayda cry again. Huh? She sobbed loudly, “NO! When I get married, I’m going to marry you!” I laughed; Jayda glared. And then I just swept my kid up into a hug.
I’m glad my kid loves me so much, and I just want her to always feel safe. Jayda’s not ready for a boyfriend—and I’m not ready for a husband. Not yet. But someday, we’ll be ready for both. And in the meantime, Jayda can continue to dream about being married to me, because it’s true in one sense: Our lives are eternally intertwined. And no matter what Cupid does to either of us, that’s never going to change.