When I was a little girl, I dreamed of getting married. I would have the most romantic man, and he would of course be handsome and brilliant, strong and powerful. A great conversationalist ... and don't forget, rich. No, not rich, wealthy. Because then everything would be perfect. He would tell me beautiful things that made me feel special and lovely and loved, he would be strong enough to lean on, or strong enough to catch me. He would be smart but not cocky, and we would talk every night until the night was passing and sleep stole over us, because we would have so very much to say to and share with each other. The wealth? Well, it was so that I could be a housewife and able to serve my man and our family, but it was also so that I could afford to serve the world. So that I could help support a homeless shelter, perhaps, or a soup kitchen. A place where I would finally be old enough and powerful enough to help lift other kids like me out of the depths of the poverty that I grew up in.
I met a boy in Kindergarten that I loved all my life ... there is a small part of me that loves him still, though he has grown into a man that I sure would not be compatible with in any way. I thought he was the cutest boy in all of Kindergarten, and we were in love. The other kids would tease us on the playground and we would run up to the top of the monkey bars and sit until recess was over. After Kindergarten I suppose one of us moved, because I don't remember him after that, and we grew up a little and went on with our childhood lives. Then the first day of sixth grade was upon me, and as I walked into reading period, there in the second row from the door I saw a boy ... He was thin with red hair and he, to me, was beautiful. I knew him from the second I saw him and I waited, barely breathing until the class roll was called and it was confirmed that he was who I had been so sure he was. All those years I had carried him in my heart, known his name and his face so well that my heart recognized him so many years later. Everyone we knew thought we would grow up to get married, and by the time we broke up even my family would ask me after school how he was doing.
The second I broke up with him I regretted it ... but he was furious with me for doing it and there was no going back. I played happy in front of most of my friends, pretended that I was glad I had "dumped" him ... but I cried hard when I was alone, every day for weeks. Maybe months ... More like, years. My heart still belonged to him when I hit high school, and even when I dated someone else he was always in the back of my mind. Finally, gradually, I stopped loving him as much as I always had, and he receded from the very forefront of my heart and mind. He became a fond memory ... and over the years he has once again become a stranger.
I believe that my Teenybop met her stranger three years ago. It was the first year of Head Start, and she was three years old, so proud to be going to big girl school. She walked so proudly up the steps into the front lobby of the school, and when she couldn't open the door by herself she waited on bouncing toes for her Daddy to allow her through the portal which would forever change my little girl into a school child ... the portal which would virtually erase so much hard work in raising a lovely and polite child, her sense of empathy turning her into a magnet for the "bad crowd" ... and trust me, there is a bad crowd even in preschool these days.
They played together nearly every day, and we have countless photos of them together at birthday parties outside of school, play dates outside of school, during field day at the end of the year when they sat together on his hooded Spiderman towel to eat their ice cream together, and during nearly every field trip that the class when on throughout the year.
So we weren't exactly surprised to be informed that our daughter was getting married at barely four years old to a four-almost-five year old cutie who loved her enough to argue over her with another boy who was bigger.
The wedding was to be at Kroger during a field trip, and even the teachers were excited. Who wouldn't be? A wedding is always cause for celebration! Even Private Ryan and I were in love with this boy. He sent our daughter her first love letter, which he had dictated to the teacher, and he made her a bracelet that she still has to this day. Sadly, the Kroger wedding was rescheduled because the field trip was rescheduled, and by the time we made that trip to Kroger, the wedding had been relocated.
It was now to take place at the local Wal-Mart because "we can get all our stuff there, and we won't have any stuff yet." See? I told you they were mature for their ages. Some adults don't think with that much logic.
I will never forget the first time we sat Private Ryan's mother down and had Teenybop inform her that there would be a wedding on the horizon ...
PRM (Private Ryan's Mother) : "Well, where is this wedding going to be? Is there any way that I can help?"
Teenybop : "No, we are doing it at Wal-Mart, so we aren't going to need any help because we can just get all the stuff when we get there."
PRM : "But I can come right? Can I come?"
Teenybop : "No."
PRM, looking hurt : "Why not? I want to be there when my little grandbaby gets married!"
Teenybop : "You can't come because we don't have any stuff yet. We don't have any food."
PRM : "Well, I could bring some bologna and we can make some sandwiches."
Teenybop, full of sass and confidence : "Oh I don't THINK so. We aren't gonna HAVE any bologna in OUR LIVES."
I pray that he is well-adjusted and that his anger never gets the best of him. I pray that he is healthy and that he still plays happily in the backyard the way he did when he was Spiderman at his birthday party. I pray that he will always be strong enough to fight for what's right and defend what he thinks is his, that he will learn to love God and that he will someday reach his full potential. And I pray that his life is full of joy and peace, that he doesn't struggle too much or too hard ... and that his blessings are abundant and well-appreciated.
Because he was the first boy to make my daughter's innocent heart hear wedding bells ... and he never hurt her feelings. He didn't ever break her heart. Not once.