Lifeguard of Love on Duty

 Momservation: Where a schoolgirl sees a message of love written on a heart-shaped candy, a schoolboy just sees candy.

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My little girl sleeping with her Valentine lion - a Valentine gift with no strings attached, as it should be

In kindergarten it was Edward (I was the early founder of Team Edward). I wanted to marry him. He wanted to be Captain Marvel.

In 2nd grade there was Todd. I carefully selected the perfect Valentine and boldly signed my name with love to him. He threw it away because there wasn’t any candy with it.

In 4th grade I liked shy and sensitive Adam. Instead I was pursued by Ian who told me with a leer that Adidas stood for All Day I Dream About Sex, and alternately, All Day I Dream About Silveira (my maiden name).

By Valentine’s Day of 5th grade the tables were turned on the innocent pursuit of love. Ian, Derek and Greg got together and instructed me to meet them after school behind the bathroom for my Valentine gifts. Nervous, but flattered and curious, I agreed to meet them.

They each presented me with a stuffed animal then told me I now had to pick one of them to be my boyfriend and I had to seal it with a kiss.

I told them all “no way”, but out of guilt for their efforts agreed to a comprise of kissing each one on the cheek for their gifts (they wanted lips).

I was mortified.

I tried to steer clear of boys after that, but then there was Kenny in 7th grade. He was actually in 6th grade but he was already a hormonal, aggressive little sucker. Pursued me every day of that summer at the local pool, one day cornering me in a game of Marco Polo and laid a French kiss on me.

I’d come a long way from just wanting a boy to sit next me and maybe hold my hand. And it only got worse from there.

So now, this Valentine’s Day with my daughter in 5th grade, I worry about her. Our culture has only gotten more sexually progressive. She already has boys aggressively pursuing her, wanting her phone number to text her, and to be their girlfriend. Like me at that age, she just wants to play a good game of soccer at recess and maybe have the cute boy sit next to her at lunch.

I was too embarrassed to tell my mom about all the boys’ attention. I wish I had. She could’ve helped me (and protected me) from being forced to grow up too soon.

My daughter, too, is hesitant to talk about boys and the attention she gets. But I ask anyway, unwilling to let overly aggressive boys paint her picture of what love should be. I keep the conversation light and playful. I try to make her feel safe and unjudged talking about it. I want her to feel comfortable coming to me when she doesn’t know what to do.

I think we’re laying good ground work. She’s confided to me in bits and pieces. My hope is by the time she is ready to stick her toe in the pool of love, she’ll feel safe and confident doing it because she knows there’s a lifeguard on duty.

And that I’m not afraid to kick anyone out of the pool area for running instead of walking.

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