I’m putting the kids to bed. Things are following the usual pattern. We read, I put S down in his cot, then go back into A’s bedroom for a goodnight kiss. She has a cute look on her face. She’s squirming a little, smiling a crooked smile and she’s twiddling the tail of her rabbit.

“Night night, dafty” I say

“Verliefd” she says

That shakes me out of my regular evening zombie-state. She’s 5 and she’s talking about love!

“Verliefd? Who are you verliefd with?”

She tells me about a boy in her class. We’ll call him J.

“And is he also verliefd with you?” I ask

“Yes I think so.”

“How do you know?”

“He tells me.”

Fair enough.

“So what’s the difference then?” I ask “Between him and your other friends? How do you know that you’re verliefd?”

“I don’t know” she giggles

Wow it’s starting to look a lot like she is in love.

“Well when I’m older, when I’m grown up I’m going to live with him.”

I can’t argue with that. You like someone, they like you back. You grow up and then you live together. It’s simple. Unfortunately my withered screwed-up adult brain has blown apart the logic of this love formula, but I’m not letting my horrible cynicism spoil it. She’s sublime.

I just give her a squeeze.

Over the next weeks A is cheerfully inventing a happy future.

Now whenever we talk about being grown up, what job she wants to do, where she wants to live it’s always the same.

“But then…when I’m living with J…..”

She seems pretty sure of the facts. And maybe it is simple, who knows?

Even the teacher has mentioned it, “Oh yes, childhood crushes can be so strong..” The two of them play super-girl and super-boy all day at school but so far they have never played together outside of school.

Walking out of the classroom one morning I see J’s mum.

“A says she is verliefd” I whisper

She nods knowingly. “Let’s arrange a playdate.”

Mondays are out – work, then Tuesdays – swimming, then Wednesdays – work again, then Thursdays – grandma. We end up having to wait a week. Should 5 year-olds be so scheduled up to the eyeballs?

The Friday in question comes up. A wakes up, runs into our bedroom. Normally she’d jump up on the bed and we’d have to endure a fantastical imaginary birthday party for her rabbit or we’d get a wriggling foot in the face, but now it’s all about J.

“Is it today? Is J coming to play today?”

I’m never at my best at 6.30 in the morning so there’s no chance I’m going to match her level of eagerness. I’ve got a permanent sleep-deprivation hangover, but on this occasion I’m going to try my damndest not to be an old crab. I squint at her.

“Yes, after school”

We get into the classroom. I’m sitting behind A in the circle and the teacher starts the morning singing. I see J coming in a bit late. He joins the circle and he’s looking all around him. He spots us on the other side of the room,

“Hey, there she is over there!”

I almost choke down a nervous laugh. What is this? Am I going red? They’re the ones pointing at each other across the room but now it’s me that’s getting all embarrassed. I never realised that the heart flutterings of my 5-year-old daughter would put me in the hot seat and reawaken my childish awkwardness.

It’s time for us to say goodbye and something makes me hesitate,

“Don’t think about the playdate too much. You don’t want to be disappointed if it doesn’t work out. Okay?”

“Yes” she says

“Bye, see you after school.”

I go and buy croissants. After school I’m there on time to pick them up. As soon as I walk in I see the two of them sitting next to each other on a bench. A is looking perplexed. J has blood on his lip. He spots me coming over and he’s shaking his head from side to side in a definite “no”.

A runs up to me. She’s upset.

“What is it?” I ask

“I don’t know, maybe he doesn’t want to come.”


“Someone knocked into him and he fell over and hurt his lip.”

“Okay, let’s go and talk to him”

I go and sit on the bench with them.

“Are you alright?” I ask “Is it painful?”

“I don’t want to come to your house” he answers

His dad pops his head round the door of the classroom and J runs to him.

I turn to A, “well never mind, he probably just wants to be with his daddy because he’s hurt himself. We’ll ask him to come another time.”

She’s trying to be okay with it. She walks towards her teacher to go and say goodbye, but she doesn’t make it. She turns back and bursts into tears.

“It’s okay, it’s okay”

“But….I…wanted… show him everything…..” she sobs.

I can hear J’s dad trying everything to persuade him.

“Look, she’s really sad now J, are you really not going to go?”

“Just for half and hour, I’ll go shopping and then come back and see how you’re getting on?”

“no” J shakes his head.

I’m struggling a bit not to show my own disappointment. My poor girl.

“Quick, let’s see if someone else can come and play” I suggest

“Okay” she nods through the tears.

And she does. Another girl, her good friend is standing just nearby and really wants to come over. She asks her mum who agrees and it’s suddenly all so straightforward, the two girls are skipping along the pavement singing. Well done, I’m thinking, what a comeback!

The weekend passes and we’re back at school. A seems to have forgiven J for the heartbreak on Friday and they are sitting together. J’s mum says,

“Sounds like it was a bit of mess on Friday”

“Yes, it was” I answer “I guess these things can happen at their age”

I turn to the kids who are listening “Let’s just do it spontaneously” I say

“Yeah” says J’s mum “Next time, just play together when you feel like it”

Then she tilts her head toward me and whispers, “This Friday”

“Yes” I whisper back

When Friday arrives again, I’m not counting on anything and A is relaxed. No build up, we’re being cool. When I get to school to pick her up I go up to J and ask him,

“Do you feel like playing at our house today?”

“No I can’t” he says “I need to take some old iron to the scrap-yard”

“Oh, do you need to do that right now?”

“Yes, I have to. I’m going with daddy.”

J’s dad arrives and explains. He’s going to the scrap-yard, but I won’t take long and then he’ll bring J over to our house. He looks at A.

“Actually, do you want to come with us in the car?” he offers.

She nods, but her smile has vanished and I can see she doesn’t want to go. She may even be about to burst into tears for the second Friday in a row.

“A listen, you don’t have to go to the scrap-yard. It was just a suggestion. You come home with me and J will come over in half an hour.”

These two kids certainly know how to complicate a playdate but now seem finally to have come to an arrangement.

J’s dad brings him over and they run straight into the garden. I serve them both some croissants and slices of orange. They take the food into the little wooden playhouse.

“Bye” they say and shut the door.

Every now and then I pop my head outside. I can hear their conversations which go along these kind of lines:

“Let’s catch some more fish.”

“Throw them in the net!”

“Where’s the bucket, quick, they’re swimming”

“No, help, that’s not right!”

Raptures of hysterical laughter………

And so it goes on for the next two and a half hours.

The start might have been a bit rocky but judging by the non-stop hilarity things are back on track. Obviously laughter is the recipe for a good friendship.

Maybe I’ll crack a few jokes when P gets home later.

One Comment on “Verliefd!”

  1. Lucy Sacker says:

    Ah, what a sweet story. It made me feel pretty nervous in the middle but I’m so glad it all worked out. Phew! You kept the tension just right 😉 And hope aniek’s friendship is blossoming well, what a sweet girl she is.
    See you soon(ish)
    Lucy x

    Sent from my iPhone

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s