Through relationship mishaps, but mostly long bouts of singleness wondering why no dashing lad had snatched up the awesome prize that is me, I realized many of the rules of love and dating so vital to know I had already learned in my childhood.
Whilst enrolled in the second grade, I embarked on the task of making a new friend. I had two best girl friends, but it was time to extend my friendship to another worthy party. I serendipitously selected the tan, cute boy named, Chris. I wooed him with compliments (“That’s a great cursive ‘L'”) and even let him borrow from my beloved 128-count box of crayons. It didn’t take long for my efforts to pay off. As we were walking down the green stairs to the cafeteria one day, he asked, “Audrey, why are you so nice to me?” With each step, I nervously huffed, “Because…. I want…to be…your friend.” And he said, “Okay.”
Lessons: 1) Friends first. 2) Lovers later.
A few days later, I was meandering from the playground’s wooden jungle gym back to the square where my class lined up at the end of recess. Chris came up behind me and started walking with me. Little did I know, I was about to have my first DTR – the dreaded “Define The Relationship” talk.
“Audrey, you can’t be my girlfriend anymore,” he said. “I’m dating Sierra and Christine, and it’s just too many to handle.”
I said, “Okay.”
I said, “Okay” because I was unaware that we were dating. I had set out to make a new friend, a cute one at that, but not a boyfriend. At least, not yet. We were still getting to know each other, for heaven’s sake! As such, I was fine with our relationship remaining unchanged in my mind, though I had just been unceremoniously kicked off the girlfriend team in his. It wasn’t until I told my two best girl friends what had happened that I learned Chris was a jerk. Our friendship never recovered.
Lessons: 1) Communicate about what each of you want out of a relationship instead of making assumptions. 2) Polygamy is not okay.
I entered into the third grade a single gal. But soon, I caught the attention of a kindred hair color, a ginger boy named, Cody. He was a new kid, which meant he was gawked at like a homeschooler outside. He was a mysterious novelty, with so much potential of being cool.
One day, a girl came up to me and said, “Cody has been calling you his wife.”
Not cool, Cody. Plus, he had since dyed his hair blue, which was not helping his case. Or his face. Naturally, we did not become friends due to his weirdness and lack of social restraint.
Flash forward four years later to middle school, and we had our first conversation.
“Remember when I called you my wife in elementary school?” Cody asked.
“Yeah,” I replied.
Lessons: 1) If you’re overzealous (or creepy), you will scare your crush away. 2) Boys named Cody are always idiots.
I soon learned that forward actions like Cody’s are not always creepy. The key is that the boy must be cute. My affections were quickly won by a daring boy third grade class, who taught me many lessons during our time together. Our romance began during story time. As the class sat at the feet of Mrs. Potok while she read us a fantastic tale, usually about caterpillars and metamorphosis, a boy caught my attention, or more accurately, my hand. One day, I happened to be sitting quite awkwardly with my arm straight to my side, palm resting on the carpet face up, and my fingers pointing backward. Perhaps adorable Carson took this as an invitation, because he grabbed it. Story time soon became my most favorite time of day.
That is, until Mrs. Potok called my parents.
Lesson: PDA will get you into trouble.
However, the relationship developing between Carson and I pressed forward undeterred, humiliation or not. Soon, though, our love would be (unnecessarily) tested.
One of our classmates had a birthday. As per elementary school tradition, he brought chocolate cupcakes for the class (I don’t know why we stopped doing this when we graduated to middle school). Carson and I sat at the same table. When the student came up to Carson to give him a cupcake, he said, “No thanks; I don’t like chocolate.” When the boy offered me one as well, I promptly declared, “I don’t like chocolate either.”
I lied. Chocolate is awesome. I had a bag of Kit-Kat bites with my name literally written on it waiting for me at home. Instead, I was forced to watch in silent misery as everyone enjoyed their cupcakes while all I had to enjoy was a worthless pseudo-boyfriend.
Lesson: Don’t change yourself to have more in common with a boy, because you won’t actually have more in common.
I wish I could say the lying stopped there, but it didn’t.
During recess one afternoon, Carson and I were sitting on a log talking about animals.
“Do you have any pets?” he asked.
“I have a dog,” I responded easily.
Then, I had an idea.
“And. . .,” I began shakily. My voice trailed off. I turned my body slightly away from him and looked up wistfully at the sky.
“What’s the matter?” He asked, concerned, as he scooted closer.
I kept my eyes wide open, trying to prompt tears to fall. I replied in the best choked up voice that I could, “I had a cat named Sebastian. I used to go to the laundry room where he was hiding and pick up his hind legs and pretend he was a wheelbarrow. He hated it. He got kidney disease and we had to put him down.”
Cue comfort from Carson.
Lessons: 1) Don’t be needy or do something solely for the sake of getting attention.
2) Refrain from lying or fake crying over things, especially cats.
You can read more from Audrey Pastula on her blog.
Feature image via.