At 4 years old Kaylee has a very warped sense of how the world should work. Take this morning for example. We were in the car driving home from dropping the boys off at school. Out of the blue she asked me what my name was when I was a kid. I replied that it was the same that it is now, Michaela. Then she clarified and asked what my last name was when I was a child. That sparked a whole other conversation about why I changed my last name and that (generally) only girls change their last names and boys keep the ones they were born with.
I figured that might start a whole psychological conversation about why girls change and boys don’t, but she seemed satisfied with the answer that it’s just the way things are done. What I did not expect was the extreme turn the conversation took next. She wanted to know what her last name would be when she became a grown up.
Unfortunately, I broke my crystal ball a few weeks back, so my ability to look into the future and see the name, address, and phone number of my 4 year old’s future spouse is somewhat limited. I tried to explain this to her, but either she couldn’t, or wouldn’t, grasp the concept.
She was quiet for a while, and I thought maybe her interest in this topic was drawing to a close. No such luck. After a few moments of silence she piped up and said, “I know who I’m going to marry.” You can be sure I wasn’t going to let a comment like that pass me by. I took the bait, “Who are you going to marry?” She paused and said, “It’s a secret.” I could have probed further I suppose, but decided with the goofy mood she was in, and the bizarre twist this conversation had already taken that maybe I didn’t want to know after all.
Turns out it didn’t really matter what I wanted because despite wanting to keep it a secret, she gave me a very large clue with her next question. But before I go into that, maybe I should give you a little bit more background.
My parents are housing parents for the local hockey team. They open their home to players from all over the country (and sometimes the world) to stay with them during the hockey season. This is their 6th or 7th year doing this so my kids are used to there being a couple of extra teenage boys at the dining room table when we go over to grandma’s house for dinner.
Through the years the hockey players have taken a varying amount of interest in my kids. None of them have ever been mean to them, but some players aren’t used to small children running around under foot and tended to keep their distance. Others, mainly the ones who have younger siblings, are more friendly with the kids and seem to truly enjoy having them around.
And that’s what’s happened with one of the players my parents have this year. He has little sisters so playing with Kaylee just comes naturally to him. He’ll play hide and seek with her when she’s over at the house, he’ll pick her up and tickle her, he’ll even sit her down on his lap and have just a regular conversation with her. And she loves it. She’s an attention hog to begin with and when he devotes his full attention to her it plays right into her chubby little hands.
The best thing about the relationship between the two is that it doesn’t matter what she says or does, because he will just play along. Like the night that we went to a dinner sponsored by the hockey team. It was a semi-nice affair so I put Kaylee into a dress, and when she saw me putting on makeup and wanted some herself I indulged her with a little bit of shiny lip gloss. She felt so grown up in her dress and her lip gloss and she declared that this hockey player was going to be her date at the dinner.
My parents filled him in on her statement, and he took it in stride. He sat down next to her at the table at dinner, and then when it came time to get drinks he himself got up and fetched her a glass of water. I offered a few minutes later to go and get her a soda, but because he had gotten her the water she absolutely would accept no other drinks. Seriously? What kid turns down soda for water? Certainly not my children.
So these are the things that you need to keep in mind as Kaylee posed her next question. She wanted to know if her hockey player was already married. Pretty sure that I had a good handle on where this conversation was headed I very slowly answered no. Without missing a beat she said, “Then I’ll marry him because he is a nice boy.”
Evidently she thinks that just saying that will make it true. I didn’t have the heart to break it to her in the car that marriage doesn’t work that way. The boy has to be on board too. Nor did I tell her that he’s just a little too old for her. For now I decided there is no harm in letting her think that this is the way of the world. By the time she’s old enough to make this decision for herself this particular hockey player will be long gone from my parents house and hopefully far enough away to elude the charming personality of my daughter.