When I was in the fifth grade, we had these teen mentors that came from the high school. I think their purpose was to get us all ready for junior high and the halfway high school things we would experience there like kissing and truth-or-dare sleepovers. They railed against peer pressure and taught us about character. I was totally into that sort of thing. I’m still into that sort of thing. I wish I had an adult mentor or something now.
Anyway, we had a boy and a girl. And I remember that our class was obsessed with the fictional idea that they were dating. We used to put questions in the anonymous question box about it. The girl would always answer. She would blush a whole lot and then talk about how great of friends they were, but no, they weren’t dating.
I’ve been thinking about that idea a lot because I am now a leader volunteering with middle school students. And I wonder if they have fictional ideas about my love life.
I think the tendency of kids to think a boy and girl team are dating actually tells us a lot about love in a really simple sort of way. In college, I see a lot of people thinking that love is having a warm body with which to cuddle, or having somebody to whom to complain, or having someone with whom to go on dates.
None of those conceptions really gets to the heart of the matter, though. The married couples I see as successful and the relationships that I admire are the ones that operate like a two-person team. Love is a beautiful, half-choreographed, half-improvised dance duet.
Children understand this. That’s why when they see a boy and a girl working efficiently together, they assume dating status. At some point we forget it, though. We get caught up in doing the same-old Electric Slide and never really think about the beauty of creating something new and original with another person.