There’s a difference between love that is pure and love that is tainted by difficult ideas that grow with us as we age. My grandmother’s love was pure, but next to her love, the purest love I ever experienced was as a child in Kindergarten.
Kindergarten was also the first time I experienced rejection. Back then I didn’t understand that I’d never have another opportunity to be loved again with a sweet innocence reserved only for youth.
Despite there being a boy in my class who thought I was the greatest thing since sliced bread, in general, I looked the opposite way, at another little boy who happened to be in love with another little girl, the Goldilocks of our classroom. Her golden hair fell in ringlets around her perfectly round face with rosy cheeks that always looked like they’d just been freshly pinched.
I don’t know why I didn’t return the same affection for the boy in my class who had eyes for me. I ran from him and may have also been a bit antagonistic. This chase happened all the way through elementary school and even culminated with an actual date a few years later, where I refused to let this gentleman open and close my car door for me, because I wanted to assert my independence and capableness.
I was so lucky to get Valentine’s gifts and to be the object of his loyal and faithful affection during elementary school, motivated by a pure heart not by physical lust. There was a moment where I treated the crush as reciprocal and I once bought a Valentine’s gift to give him in return for his generous gestures of unadulterated kindness.
My favorite childhood gift, that in retrospect was the ultimate innocent and pure expression of love was a shoebox that he decorated with hearts. The shoebox was filled with caterpillars. Not one or two caterpillars, but it must have been hundreds. I loved that shoebox, and it couldn’t contain all the love this boy had to give, just for me. God knows how long it took him to gather such a collection. In fact, to my mother’s chagrin, the caterpillars escaped and ended up crawling all over the house—as symbolism of my future, that it’s impossible to keep the lid on love and sometimes love gets messy, no matter how pure the intent.
From this point forward, I’d be the one expressing my innocent love for others who would mostly never understand. The universe would pay me back infinitely for my aloof reception of this young boy’s purest pursuit.
In fact, I’ve thought many times over the years about what would have happened if I’d given this love a chance to grow on me. What if I’d decided to love back, to give equally in return? Would have I escaped the lost loves I’d experience in the years to come? Would it have been within me to look past this individual’s educational ADHD which was seen as poor academic performance back then? Or would he have eventually grown tired of boyish pursuits and started to seek for a more voluptuous match to his soon-to-be raging teenage hormones? Either way, I let that childhood love slip away.