Phragments from Phyllis: Love in bloom among children

Do you remember your first love? How old were you?

I remember clearly the first boy I had a crush on. His name was Billy Pollard, and I realize he was a kind of goofy kid, nerdy, probably. His mom was an advanced English teacher at the high school I would later attend, but Billy was a kind, gentle soul, and I was in love. That was in the third grade. It was the only time in my entire school career that my parents got a note from the teacher on my report card citing me for “excessive talking.” I blame the teacher herself somewhat, however, because the reason I talked so much was that Billy sat next to me – and the teacher never moved him. Of course, I must also admit that Billy was the first boy I ever kissed – so I wasn’t totally innocent in all this.

After that, my next crush was on a very cute, almost exotic-looking fellow in the fifth grade named Wayne Stone. Wayne had the hearts of a number of girls in my fifth grade class, but he sat behind me and picked on me incessantly. We also went to the same church, so I saw him more than those other girls, which proved to be of some advantage. This was the first time in my life that I would call a boy on the phone – a real no-no in those days. His family, I might add, had the first color TV in my circle of friends and acquaintances, so the Stone household was the envy of everyone at Cradock Jr. High. I pretty much stayed in love with Wayne until an unfortunate incident when we were in ninth grade. I realized I had misjudged him significantly on the day President John Kennedy was killed. We were in science class when they began to play updates on the shooting and eventually announced that the president was dead. In those days there were a lot of people in the small, blue-collar Southern Baptist church of my childhood who had been concerned about what influences from the Pope might be in store with a Catholic president. I know it seems silly now, and my parents had adopted the attitude that Kennedy deserved the benefit of the doubt where the future of the United States was concerned. But my guess is that Wayne’s parents had never let go of their small-minded biases. In any event, I was sitting behind Wayne on that fateful day. As the story unfolded, there were many of us in tears in our classroom. We were old enough to recognize the implications of the death of a president and to be concerned about what that might mean for our little corner of the world – if not the nation. When the announcement of the president’s death was made, Wayne turned to me and said, “Good riddance!” I was horrified – and cured of a years-long crush.

Cade started last year in 3K with at least two girlfriends. He would talk about them almost every day, and it was my impression that he spent as much time with a little girl named Finley as he spent with anyone in the class.

This year has been no different. Cade came home with a picture drawn for him by a little girl named Reese. The drawing is a picture of a little girl – I think – with an obvious ring on her finger. It looks like it might be an engagement ring or a wedding band. Above the picture are her full name and the words, written quite clearly: “I LOVE U CADE.”

I don’t know whether to laugh or to be a little concerned. These kids are in 4K. They should be learning to read, not falling in love, so to speak. Of course, it’s evident that Reese is definitely making headway mastering the art of writing and, I’d guess, reading. Her message was quite clear – good handwriting, message simple and to the point. She could be a newspaper woman some day, couldn’t she?

Meanwhile, I’m not ready for Cade to be talking about girlfriends. And I don’t want any notes from his teacher about “excessive talking.”