All About Dating

“Dating is about hugging and kissing, and stuff,” remarked five-year-old Bradley. “That’s what girls do, when they finally get boys alone.” And then he squirmed like he’d just eaten a live lizard.

“Have you ever kissed a girl?” I asked.

Bradley wrinkled his face, and shook his head. “NO!”

“Why not?”

He clutched his mouth.

“HEY!” shouted eight-year-old wiseman, and noted relationship veteran, Beau. “Girls only want your money, and for you to fix their stuff. My dad says all he ever does is fix stuff and lose money.”

Your daddy must sleep on the couch a lot.

Six-year-old blonde, Margaret, sneered. “Y’all are just being stupid…”

“Honey,” I interrupted. “We don’t say ‘stupid.’ It’s not nice.”

“Sorry,” said Margaret. “Y’all are being dumb asses.”


Bradley interjected, “My brother has a girlfriend, and all he does is text. All day, just like this, see?” Bradley did an imitation of someone thumb-typing on a cellphone. “Text, text, text. With GIRLS!”

“That not dating,” said Margaret, with conviction. “Dating isn’t about texts.”

“YES HUH!” Bradley considered such a comment an outright blow toward his integrity as a five-year-old.

Margaret rolled her eyes.

“Let’s all calm down,” I said. “Margaret, honey, what do you think dating’s about?”

She thought for a moment. Then shrugged. “I guess it’s about having babies and families?”

Moving right along.

“Anyone else?”

Life-weathered four-year-old, Kyle, spoke up, “I wish I could have a bathroom in my room, then I could go pee whenever I want at night, and not wet all over.”

Don’t we all, Kyle.

Another girl in the back of the room added, “Dating is about falling in love.”

“What do you think love is?”

She twisted her mouth. “It’s like, spending your life with somebody. So you’re not alone. And you go do things with them, and make food for them, and hot chocolate, and cereal. And you do stuff, just together. Because you think they’re special people. And you want them in your life.”

A bunch of fidgety, runny-nosed children became still.

She went on, “Um, well, I dunno. Was that a wrong answer, Mister Sean?”

“No, darling.”

No, it wasn’t.

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