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Feeling submerged in the wide world of potty-training, Christmas festivities, and running a homeless shelter, I apparently neglected to realize that my older two (almost 9 and almost 11) have “fallen in love”. (I know, but don’t laugh because if you laugh it makes them really angry… unless you’re trying to make them angry… and then you can laugh all you want!)

Gone are the good old days of crushes and dreams of marrying a llama – in are the traumatizing years of the pre-teens. The crazy stage in life that makes insane children contemplate finding a mate and want to reproduce, passing on their sub-par genes to yet another generation. Just what this world needs more of these days.

So last night, while I was caught up in all the thoughts that come when you drive (not stop lights and turn signals, gosh no! I’m talking about grocery lists and last minute Christmas cards, and trying to remember if I ate dinner or not), my children caught me off guard with this question:

“Mom, how old do we have to be to kiss?”

Not quite understanding the question, I asked, “Kiss each other??” This was obviously the wrong answer as both kids simultaneously burst out into gags and comments about how despicable I am as a human being for even suggesting sibling affection.

“Mom,” Taylor clarified, “how old do we have to be to kiss who we want to marry?”

Hold the phone, stop the train, shut the front door. Do all of the things that need to be done to halt this conversation and bring me up to speed! “Wait a second… what are you talking about?” I asked while trying to see their shadowy faces in the rearview mirror as we drove past the street lights.

Cameron was the one who spoke next. “Okay, so Taylor and I know who we want to marry and they want to marry us back, so when can we kiss them? That’s the answer we want to know.”

This may seem rude to you, but my first thought wasn’t about getting the shot gun and protecting my children from unwanted suitors. Nope, it was outright awe that my children had found requited “love” in the first place! Who were these other children and are they being blackmailed? Held at gunpoint perhaps? I tried to verbalize my words carefully, not wanting to hurt my kids’ feelings too badly.

“Um…. So… people like you guys, then? Is that what you’re saying? Like, real people? People your age?”

“Mom, I told you weeks ago that Michael and I are getting married! Don’t you even remember at all?” Taylor actually looked hurt. And now that she mentioned it, I vaguely recalled the conversation after meeting this child at the school open house back in the fall. But kids are so fickle, I obviously didn’t think he would still be the crush (um, I mean “true love”) of the week.

“And Mom, I’ve liked Addison almost this whole year! She already told me we’re getting married so I thought, hey, we might as well kiss, then.”

I stared at my children with my mouth hanging open far longer than I’m comfortable with as a perpetual nose-breather. But I couldn’t fathom what was happening in our universe that was causing this ridiculous conversation to take place! Cameron hates physical touch and is asking to lock lips with some girl who proposed to him because they’ve been “going out” for like, almost 2 months… and Taylor just keeps telling me how utterly obsessed she is with her current boyfriend and his “delicious blonde hair” (and no, I’m not kidding). No matter how much I tried, I just couldn’t find this cutesy and not creepy. Could Not Do It.

“Ok… So, Taylor. What exactly do you have in common with Michael? I mean, how do you know that this is the boy you want to supposedly marry?”

“Well, I don’t know what supposedly means, but I think I should marry Michael because he’s really cute and he’s got adorable dimples AND he likes to do cartwheels just like me.”

Adorable dimples? What on earth is happening here?

“So you think he’s cute and he can do a cartwheel… those are your qualifications for a spouse?”

Taylor seemed prepared for her next answer and delivered it with confidence. “Well, you married Dad and he’s cute and can do a cartwheel, so why can’t I marry Michael?”

How do you argue with that logic, I mean, she had a point.

“You do realize that Dad and I didn’t fall in love because he could do a cartwheel, right? And that’s certainly not what made us choose to get married. You really should have more in common than cartwheels at least.”

“Well, Michael loves to swing – so do I. And he loves to play volleyball – so do I…”

“Taylor, you’ve never played volleyball in your life!”

“Well, it looks fun and I bet I’d like it.”

Cameron interjected that he, too, has very important things in common with his future wife. “Addison and I both love art and hate Math. But she dated all the other boys in my class already and still chose me to marry so that’s pretty good!”

Aw, he looked so proud of that fact. Apparently words like “floozy” and “trollop” haven’t made it to the vocab tests yet. Regardless of their obvious misunderstanding of all things love-related, they had asked a question and I needed to give them an answer.

“No one can kiss anyone who is not a family member until they are 16 years old, understood?” There was no need for them to know that my first kiss came just before my 13th birthday and that I probably wouldn’t even allow them to kiss at 16 either.

“Sweet!” Taylor exclaimed. “I’m almost allowed to kiss! I just have… (doing mental math) 9 more years!”

“Nah uh, Taylor, you have 10 more years and I have 9 more years. I get to kiss before you because I’m older.”

Sweet Lord, they can’t even get the numbers right. And that gave me an idea…

“New rule… no kissing until you can do math correctly.” I proclaimed.

“Aw, that’s not even fair!” Taylor squawked while Cameron said, “I guess I better tell Addison we’re NEVER going to be able to get married then… thanks a lot, Mom.”

Apparently their true loves were not motivation enough to study their math facts more effectively. But my plan worked so I wasn’t too upset by it. Hopefully Michael and Addison will one day be able to move on (although I’m guessing Miss Addison already has) and that another girl who can add will find Michael’s dimples just as adorable.

(***The names of both crushes have been changed to protect the innocent. However, I would strongly encourage all 5th grade moms out there to talk to their daughters about responsible marriage proposals. PS, I’m very sorry for calling your daughter a floozy. Kind of.***)

PSS.... buy my book (subliminal messaging inserted here).

Photo: Tumblr

Photo: Tumblr