First Crushes Are Hard

Helen is in love. Hopelessly devoted to a boy who doesn’t even know she’s alive. Every night, she waits for him to return, hoping that this time, he’ll notice her, play with her. Even just glance her way, acknowledge her. But every night, she’s disappointed. She comes to bed reluctantly, dejected. Often, she’ll only stay a few minutes before she returns to the front door—under the guise of getting a toy to bring to bed—to make sure she didn’t give up too soon.

Helen’s crush is on a slippery fellow named Gordon. We’ve told her time and again, “Don’t get hooked on a gecko. They have wandering eyes and sticky fingers. Plus, they eat bugs. And that’s just gross.” Still, you can’t help who you fall in love with. And she’s fallen hard.

Each night after bedtime pee call, she comes back into the house like a good girl, gets her drink then lingers in the foyer. Soon, tense with anticipation, she sits and stares at the wavy glass on either side of the front door, waiting for him to scurry up one side, feasting on the flying insects drawn to the light.

He doesn’t care about her. He teases her with his gravity-defying climbing, weaving through the wrought iron, his belly pressed against the glass. Sometimes, he sprints up and across the glass. She’s convinced this is the time he’ll play with her. She whimpers for him. She wiggles closer to the glass, following his every serpentine move, emitting a playful “woo-woo-woo,” hoping to get his attention. But, he ignores her.

Kathy tries to break it to her gently. She wraps her arms tenderly around her shoulders, as Helen drops her head in despair. Her ears droop, her eyes drop to her paws, her jowls slide forward as her crooked Boxer mouth forms a poignant little “o”.

He’s not going to call. He doesn’t see how wonderful you are, what a great playmate you would be. Honey, he doesn’t see all the good things about you: your great problem-solving skills, your winning smile, shining personality, your fantastic physique. All he cares about are bugs. And the rumors swirling through the gecko community that you played too rough with a much bigger lizard and left him for dead by the front door. We know you didn’t mean it, but word travels quickly in the lizard community.

So Helen is left with longing and heartbreak. Lying curled at my feet now, she’s given up for another night. Her face is innocent and sweet, flews puffing softly with every exhale. I wonder if she’s dreaming of Gordon. I hope not. As her mother, I know she can do better.

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