I don’t know if it’s a blessing or a curse, but I’ve been gifted two amazing children eager for love. My son is as monogamous as they come – having been devoted to the same girl for nearly two years. My daughter also stayed true to her preschool love through her entire first year of kindergarten. Her lesson is the one I’m sharing today.

Once upon a time, there was a preschool playhouse.

My daughter loved this playhouse. It was the scene of her unofficial first kiss (I’m not going to count it as her lifelong first kiss…because). We’ll call the lucky boy, “J” for short.

J was the bad boy of the preschool – constantly clipping down and finding new ways to get into trouble. And for my daughter – who falls NOT for Prince Ben, but for Harry Hook in the Descendants 2 movie – he was magnetic. She quickly fell in “love” with J and would tell us daily of what he did and said, which of the other girls were also his girlfriends, and how she was going to marry him one day.

It became a game in our house, with my husband theatrically demanding she never see him again and Pooka (her nickname) perfectly filling the role of rebellious daughter determined to love whomever she wants.

She was only 4, but I recognized there was important modeling taking place.

Her temper tantrums about J felt like a crystal ball into her teenage years. That’s when we will play the role of protective parents while she trots out of the house to climb on the back of a motorcycle (not that there’s anything wrong with motorcycles or people who ride them – but I’m working the stereotypical bad boy image here – haha!).

And so we made it less of a game.

And we gave the conversations less power. I assumed they would stop…that J would disappear from center focus and she’d move on to a different topic. But I was wrong.

Immediately following preschool graduation, she dropped her bomb on me.

“J and I kiss every day behind the playhouse.”

WHAT??? But I tried not to give her forbidden act any power and was all, “Why not kiss out in the open?” to which she replied, “We’d get in trouble.”

Lord. Help. Me. This child KNEW she was doing something that would get her in trouble with a boy she knew was the class troublemaker.

I had nothing. I think I maybe laughed and changed the subject, again confident that with preschool over, J would disappear.

But I was wrong.

Pooka spent the summer dreaming about J. One night, she joined a group of moms blissfully alone for the night at the community pool, telling them all about how she was going to marry J and how they’d kissed all the time behind the preschool playhouse.

The conversations were adorable…dripping with the sweetness of preschool love, and I just let this whole thing play out.

Then we went to kindergarten…and there was no J.

YES!!! He went to a different school (I did not know which one). And so I moved on – but my daughter held on. She held on for an entire YEAR of kindergarten.

Any time anyone would ask her about boys, her answer was a firm “I’m going to marry J. I love him.”

With him out of the immediate picture, the games between protective father and rebellious daughter started up again. And continued…for an entire year!?! She can’t remember what I asked her to do three seconds ago, but she was devoted to this now imaginary boy for a flipping year. It made me laugh more than anything, and confirmed my suspicions…we were going to be in BIG trouble when this child actually reached dating age.

Then we switched schools…and guess who was there.

J. And the most GLORIOUS thing happened. According to the story from her older brother and Pooka, she had practically ran up to him, extremely excited to be reunited with her one. true. love. And…

He had no idea who she was.

J did not remember the stolen kisses behind the playhouse. He did not remember her name. J did not even recognize her face.

She had become a total stranger to him, whereas he’d stayed the boy she was gonna marry some day.

Best believe I jumped ALL OVER THAT.

She cried on the car ride home. And I sympathized. We talked, with me trying to make a point about this important life lesson while also trying not to say TOO much and take the life lesson away

She learned what a “jerk” was that day. And how much more careful she needed to be with her heart (and her lips).

She again started to fall for a “bad boy,” this time one of her brother’s friends, and I quickly reminded her of the Lesson of J.

Amazingly…it worked. She stopped the crazy path she had started down and seemed to understand. She did not want to risk being the forgotten girl again. The girl who is good enough to kiss behind the playhouse, but easily replaced.

I hope this love lesson stays with her always.

And that when she does bestow the gift of her first, true love’s kiss, it’s with a sheep in wolves clothing…because I know “Harry Hook” is gonna be who’s coming to dinner.

Tips/Tricks for helping her learn more lessons in love while the stakes are low? Please, for the love of all things holy…share them with me in the comments below!

Much Love – H

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