You are only 11 years old.
Just a few weeks ago, you thought boys were gross.
Now you have a boyfriend.
You’ve been together a few weeks (4 or 5) and everyone around you seems to be talking about “young love”. You’re sweet on each other. It’s all so innocent. You don’t even hold hands but you call and text and video call each other. A lot.
I met him today and felt relief knowing that he seems as young and sweet and innocent as you. It lessens the chance of peer pressure.
When you come home from school, no matter how rubbish or boring your day was. No matter whether you got homework or got bullied or hated your lunch. As soon as you mention his name… You smile.
Your whole face lights up as you try to suppress that cheeky grin but there’s no hiding that happy.
And each time you come home and smile at the thought of him, I relax. I relax because I know all too well that one day, it won’t be a smile on your face when you say his name. One day you won’t have that happy excitement to make you bound through the door.
Because you’re only 11.
And because you’re my daughter.
You are affectionate and emotional like me.
And even when you’re only 11. And you’ve not even held his hand. Love hurts.
I hate the thought that one day you will cry over boys. One day you will get your heart broken. Or you’ll suffer the guilt of breaking someone else’s heart. Because they simply weren’t the one.
And with each year that you grow into adolescence, relationships will grow more mature. “Young love” will become real love. Love will grow stronger. Heartbreaks will hurt more. And at times the emotional pain will feel unbearable.
And quite simply, although I know it’s coming, I can’t bear the thought of someone hurting your heart. I can’t bear the thought of tears rolling down your little girl cheeks as you feel the bitter sting of rejection, betrayal, breakups.
I have had so many bad relationships in my life. So many unrequited crushes in my teenage years. Met so many liars and cheats in my older years. Come across those who pretend to like you for the giggles in school.
At your age I used to day dream about fairytale love and long for someone to want me as their girlfriend. But years went by where nobody liked me that way and it used to break me. I struggled to keep my emotions in check as I reached puberty and the latter years of secondary school. I struggled with adolescence. With boys. With love.
You’re my oldest baby and I’m not ready for you to feel all the heartache of adolescence and boys. As parents our job is to protect our children from pain. Keep you safe from harm. But love is something we can’t protect you from.
And whilst I’m not saying the boy that you’re with at 11 is the one you’re going to fall in love with… This is where it starts. This… Where your innocent little smile lights up the room at the mention of your first boyfriend. This is where life starts to get so much harder. Both for you growing up. And for me as a mum.
So every day you come home with a spring in your step, I’m thankful that someone is making you feel happy and special.
And if one day, you come home in tears, I’ll be here with chocolate and tissues and mum-cuddles.