Our 10-year-old, just in the last week, has been putting gel in his hair and caring about whether he matches! I knew something was up.....
K: Mom, can you help me with my hair. I don't want the turkey tail!
Me: Really. You didn't really mind a couple weeks ago. I can help. Why don't you try this gel, just a little bit. You match today, too. You are looking nice.
K: Yeah..........I want to impress someone.
Me: Wow! Who is it?
K: Well, it's a girl....(if you can imagine the sheepish looks kids get when they are a tad embarrassed, that's what he was giving me).
Me: Is it that girl you liked a little bit in second grade?
Me: Do you think she's going to notice you?
K: I don't know.
Me: Me neither. Looking nice will maybe attract her attention, but you know what will keep it?
Me: Being kind to those around you. She'll notice that you are a kind boy, someone she wants to be around.
K: Yeah. That's a good idea.
We've already had conversations about what he likes about this girl. She smart and he likes to way she looks. She also hardly gets in trouble at school, so she follows rules. I didn't want to give him a lecture about dating and how he shouldn't be liking girls right now. He is only 10 years old and it's hard for me to think my baby is growing up so fast. But, I also want him to really notice the people around him and how they behave. He isn't interested in dating yet. He hasn't even talked to this girl at school. I know he most likely won't at this age. He's still very shy and crushes come and go pretty easily. He has had a couple crushes. It's good for him to start realizing he is interested in the opposite sex. If I tell him he's too young or I don't want him to grow up, he might not feel like he can talk to me again. He'll keep it to himself. That is the last thing I want.
This crush is like the beginning stepping stone on his journey to finding a partner. He's starting to notice girls. Right now he can learn how it feels to be interested in someone. He can think about what he likes about a person he's interested in.
He'll continue experiences crushes without really doing anything about it. When he turns 12, he'll become part of the Young Men program at church. He'll be encouraged to interact with girls his age during combined mutual activities. He'll start to learn how to talk to a girl and be friends with one in a non-threatening environment (meaning the expectation is usually fun or conversation guided by a specific purpose; this will give him direction in his interactions with girls).
Next, when he turns 14, he'll be able to attend dances with young women. His practice talking with girls during fun or spiritual activities at mutual will give him some grounding as now he is required to ask them individually for a minute of their time. He'll learn how to kindly ask for a few minutes of time and practice interacting with one girl for just those few minutes. He's learning communication.
Next, when he turns 16, he'll be able to group date. He will have to learn to communicate with one partner for a longer period of time, but it comes with the safety and comfort of a group. He can take breaks from trying to communicate and learn about the opposite sex by having others there to also engage in conversation with.
Then, he'll turn 18 and go on a mission! He'll learn about rejection, communicating with a partner, and establishing good spiritual habits with a partner. He'll also learn how to communicate about tough topics, like chastity or word of wisdom or other sins investigators are experiencing. He'll learn about disappointment and perseverance.
When he comes home, he will start dating with a bigger purpose. He will have learned a lot of the communication that will be needed to begin a relationship with a special partner. He will date a lot of young women to try and find that special partner. All the previous stepping stones and growth in communication will help him as he asks for dates and learns about the young women he surrounds himself with.
Then comes marriage.
I don't want him to skip that first step.....the crushes. He needs to understand every step to properly build a foundation for the next step. Yes, he's my baby. But, I also realize that he needs to grow up and I want him to be successful. It may seem quick, but it makes me wonder what Heavenly Father feels about me. In the scriptures he often says this life is "but a moment." I had my baby moments with my son. Now it's time for me to allow him some pre-teen moments and enjoy those just as much!