I was a romantic child. Before I understood the concept of romantic love I was busy falling into it constantly. I loved my best friend’s big brother, I loved the boy next door, I loved the chubby boy in my class who was nice to me. I fell in love and I longed for love.
On first glance, if one of my children was to be this way inclined, you’d assume it would be Miss Rose. Miss Rose is full of love. She is all about cuddles and affection, tells everyone how much she loves them, and is emotionally vulnerable. Z, on the other hand, is tough, strong, hates displays of anything he considers weakness. And, despite this, it is Z who is the romantic one.
Whilst Rose is full of love for family and friends, and regularly talks about getting married and having a baby (not because we’ve taught her that is the thing she has to do, I hasten to add), she is not yet romantic. I’m sure it’ll come, but her love right now is not for romance. Her desire to get married is because she’s seen weddings and they look like fun, she asks to marry her daddy, her sister and brother, and her friends. The stories she loves have no romance. They’re girls on adventures with their friends, getting into scrapes and singing songs.
Z, on the other hand, is a romantic soul. Despite his tough exterior, he is a sucker for a love story. He loves Batman, wants to see Batman fighting bad guys and wielding weapons, but is completely smitten with the concept of Batman falling in love with Catwoman, and asks to watch scenes where they’re kissing. He loves The Nightmare Before Christmas, not just for the creepy animation and funny monsters, but for the way Sally pines for Jack, and Jack’s final revelation that what is missing from his life is loving Sally. And Z is in love. Z is in love with The Girl Next Door.
If a little boy is going to fall in love then The Girl Next Door is exactly who he would fall in love with. The Girl Next Door is ten years old. She is tall, with long brown hair and a big smile. She is sweet and kind, plays with the children and welcomes them into her games. She holds his hand when they’re walking and never laughs at his childish ways.
When we took birthday presents round last week, Z paused at the door and announced he had to tell her something. “I love you,” he said. And he meant it.
We often talk about what we think they will be like when they’re grown.
We imagine Miss Rose flitting between boyfriends or girlfriends, breaking hearts as often as hers is broken. She is in life for the experience, and when the desire for romantic love does come to her, as it likely will, she’ll retain the same passion and drive for constant adventure that she has now. We assume that it will take her a long time and a lot of mistakes before she finally finds the one she wants to be with.
We imagine Z falling in love and falling hard, and staying with her for as long as he is able. Not with The Girl Next Door, but with a girl just like her. He is not drawn to experiences and thrills, he doesn’t get excited and passionate about anything and everything in the way Rose does, but when he finds something he connects with he is all in. I imagine him falling in love at seventeen, being married at twenty, and never craving anything or anyone else, because his desire has been sated.
Of course, this is all imagination and they are constantly growing and changing. But, for now, these images suit them well
The Girl Next Door will grow into a woman well before Z grows into a man and when she brings home her beloved that will present Z with his first, perhaps only, taste of a broken heart. And that will be a painful day. I just hope he heals well. I never truly got over Prince Jareth falling in love with Sarah instead of me.
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Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!