Kindergarten Lesson for Twenty-somethings

Dec 13, 2014 by

          “I had a boyfriend when I was in kindergarten,” my 16-year-old sister told me a few weeks ago.

          “What?” I exclaimed in utter shock. I thought I was going to pass out at the cuteness. “How did I not know this? Oh my God, that’s so cute! I can’t take it! How did this happen?”

          “It just happened,” she laughed.

          “But, like, how? Did you guys hold hands? Was there physical contact?”

          “I don’t know,” she said.

          “How do you not know?”

          “I was five,” she giggled.

          “Okay, so, when you were five, how did you know he was your boyfriend?” I pressed.

          “You just know,” she shrugged.

          “You just know?” I repeated her words back to her in disbelief. “Can you please notify twenty-somethings everywhere that ‘you just know’?”

 

***

 

          Fellow twenty-somethings, I think we could learn a thing or two about dating from kindergarteners. Personally, I was not sneaking into bathroom stalls with guys until age 18, but shout out to the boy and girl in Mrs. Reyes’ Senior Kindergarten class of 1995 that were 13 years ahead of the game! Don’t worry; they’re not the subjects of today’s lesson – though they definitely provide support for Gen Y’s hookup culture, don’t you think? Today, friends, we’re discussing kindergarten couples! #cute! Most people wouldn’t consider any kindergarten relationships legitimate, but why not? A boy and a girl like each other, start playing together, and faithfully sit side by side at circle time. Sounds like a relationship to me!

          Too easy, right? Few adult relationships form that smoothly. How is it that kindergarteners can “just know” that they’re dating, but adults can analyze the fuck out of every punctuation mark and still have no idea what the hell they’re doing? I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that kindergarteners – wait for it – don’t question their feelings. They act on impulse because they’re too little to fully grasp the concept of consequence. Adults, on the other hand, operate on an awareness of anxiety-inducing possibilities that complicate “just knowing.”

          As we get older, we want explanations. We feel the need to go beyond just knowing by also knowing why: Why do we feel this way? Why this person? Why not that physically attractive, perfectly charming, available one instead? Once we’re done with the whys, we move on to the what-ifs: What if I get rejected? What if it doesn’t work out? What if he’s a spender but I’m a saver? What if he wants a big wedding but I want to elope? Oh dear God, what if he likes to cuddle?

          Can we all fucking chill? No wonder so many people are opting for hookups over dates. We grew up, and we escalated feelings from simple sensations to complex curveballs. Can’t we just own them? Can’t we just like each other? Can’t we just goddamn hold hands and see where it goes? Anxiously anticipating everything that could happen as a result of our feelings is useless. All the questions we pose as adults but didn’t even think to think about as kindergarteners have caused us to forget: feeling is beautiful. And when you do, you just know.

 
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