When Casey was four, I noticed that he was shy around girls. Certain girls in particular.
One day on the playground I noticed he was fascinated with a pretty girl his age, but clearly admiring her from afar.
“Why don’t you go talk to that girl?” I asked him.
“No! I can’t!” he said, and he turned away.
“Is it because she’s pretty?” I asked. “Let me tell you something. Never let a woman have power over you because she is pretty. Got it? Now go talk to her.” And to my surprise, he did.
And in that moment, a monster was created.
Fast forward two years. Casey is six.
“Dad, I have twelve girlfriends.”
“You don’t even know number eight’s name!” I scoffed, mildly exasperated.
“Well, number eight – I’m her number five!” Apparently they had worked out some kind of scoring system.
This collection game went on for a while, despite his mother and me telling him that guys should really have only one girlfriend.
One day Casey said, “Dad, I’m going to get it down to one girl.” I told him I thought that was a good idea. About a week later he reported, “Dad, I’ve gotten it down to six.”
The following week: “Dad, I’ve gotten it down to two.”
“Oh, yeah?” I said. “Who are they?”
“Skylar and Mara.” I knew them both, and they were opposites. Skylar was tall and blonde; Mara was small with straight black hair.
On the next Friday he said, “Dad, I’ve made up my mind. It’s going to be Mara, and I’m going to give her this note on Monday!” I read the note. It said:
“Mara – I like the way you look. – Casey” It was perfect; it complimented her in a superficial way and didn’t commit him to anything.
“That’s great, son!” All day at work on Monday I was strangely excited for Casey. When I got home that night, I sought him out.
“How did it go with Mara today?” I asked him.
“Dad, it went great! She loved the note I gave her!”
“Wait a minute,” I said. “Didn’t you tell me that Mara can’t read yet?”
“Yeah. I had Skylar read it to her,” he said matter-of-factly.
I was stunned. He had Mara’s rival read his love note to her. Mara must have felt so special and victorious. Skylar must have been crushed.
I said, “Son, I have nothing left to teach you.” The student had surpassed the master.
And I have never given him romantic advice again.
© 2016 David Holmes
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