Tuesday, February 16, 2010

All you need is love (and cookies)

At just 20 months, Kyle has not yet mastered the art of romance. Sure, he enjoys flirting and all, especially with supermarket cashiers, but asking a girl out is not something that comes to him easily. Considering that he's my son, he may need a little more than a few more months for it to come naturally (about 200 more months might be just about right). Until then, Kyle's life is going to be filled with a lot of awkward moments, especially during this time of year, when knowing how to be suave is incredibly important, almost as important as having a good excuse for why you forgot to buy flowers on Valentine's Day.

Sometimes Kyle can be a little overbearing in his approach. For example, during gym time last week, he tried to make friends with a 3-year-old girl (he apparently likes the older women) by giving her a couple of small toys he had just picked up off the floor. At first she rejected him flat out by not accepting the gift, likely because he is half her age and she didn't want to start anything that would lead to a May-December relationship. Kyle persisted by pressing her with the toys. She then took a step back, hoping that he may stop his advances, but he simply took that as a sign that she simply did not understand what he was trying to do. So, instead of backing away, he reached out even more, this time by pushing out her arms and trying to put the toys in her hands. Apparently he was not going to take "no" for an answer. The girl, though, was not going to give in. She darted away, leaving Kyle alone, standing there with the toys and without her number. He was unsure of what to do next, and for a moment he pondered what he did wrong. He thought everything was going so right, and now, with his heart crushed, he wondered if he could ever learn to love again. This lasted about 10 seconds, up until the point when he saw how much fun other kids were having on the slide. He ran to it and forgot all about the girl.

Kyle experienced another awkward moment at church on Sunday, except this time he was the one feeling suffocated by someone else's advances. As everyone listened intently to the priest's wise words, Kyle was thumping his shoes on the floor as he walked to the back of the building, pulling his mother along with him. Jennifer says, as they stood there, Kyle suddenly was ambushed by twin girls who are just about his age. They each came up to him and hugged him. Kyle did not know what to do with all this affection. He was scared, and he did not hug back. Instead, he just stood there, frozen as the girls took turns squeezing his little body. This may have been the moment when Kyle learned how to pray, as his face expressed a desire to receive some sort of divine intervention to help him break free from the onslaught of affection. Eventually the girls stopped hugging, and Kyle was able to sneak away. He did not make eye contact with them for the rest of the service.

The girls probably would have had better luck if, instead of hugs, they gave him cookies. My parents knew that was the way to his heart, and when they visited us this weekend, they gave the little guy a big cookie shaped like Sesame Street's Cookie Monster. "COOK-IE!" said Kyle. Of all the words Kyle can speak, this is the one he says the clearest (we have already scheduled appointments with our dentist to fill his cavities in 2016). Kyle smiled widely as he ate the treat, and for the rest of the weekend he showered my parents with kisses and hugs. It was love... at least, for as long as the cookie lasted.

So it appears that the perfect relationship for Kyle is one where he can give a girl toys and receive cookies in return. Aggressive hugs will go unrequited. Unfortunately, the kind of give-and-take Kyle is seeking rarely happens in the adult world, unless "toys" are replaced with "diamonds." He will be expected to return hugs, too... even the overpowering ones. Kyle will learn that hard truth someday, hopefully before he's in his twenties. Before then, though, I suppose he'll have to deal with the rejection, the awkwardness and the unwanted squeezes.

One thing's for sure, though: while girls may not express their love to him with cookies, at least his grandparents certainly will.

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