Pete Wilgoren knew he’d someday have to deal with his daughter falling in love… But he wasn’t expecting it to happen when she was 4 years old.
I was there when she was born. I was there when she started to crawl and then to walk. I was there when she spoke her first words and wrote her first letters. But now, I see the writing on the wall. There is another man in Andreya’s life. My 4-year-old has a crush on her swim teacher.
That’s right. She apparently likes older men. His name is Andrew and he has red hair. Sure, he’s a catch I guess, really I don’t know, you better ask my wife. But when he speaks in his abrasive teen voice, hollering commands in the pool in the level one swim lessons, Andreya melts. I’ve seen it happening for days as the crush started to take hold this summer. Andreya would be the first kid to volunteer for whatever Andrew was teaching; leg kicks, breathing, arm strokes, floating. Whatever it was, she was first. Then she began getting all bubbly, losing focus, giggling like a little school girl even though she’s not in school yet, jumping up and down whenever he’d come over for the next drill.
Outside the pool, Andreya would do the repeat goodbye. You’ve seen that before. She’d say “bye,” and then say it again, and wave, and then wave again and then go back once more to wave and say goodbye yet again. One day, she literally shouted across the pool at him, “byyyyyyyeeeee!!!!!!!” She shouted so loud people turned and stared. And when he finally turned around to acknowledge her, she got all quiet and smirked and then in a little, tiny cat voice said bashfully “bye.”
On a recent Saturday, a day when there are no swim lessons, it was clear Andreya’s mind was elsewhere. From the backseat of the car she said, “Mama, I miss Andrew.” Later, when we passed the high school pool, she looked longingly out the window and told us she was pretending Andrew was inside so she could say “hi” to him. Now the girl is seeing things. Gloria, my wife, finally said, “You really like Andrew don’t you… Why?” I think Andreya said she likes him because he’s funny. I’ve never heard him say one funny thing, ever. But what do I know? And just yesterday, Andreya told me she really wished we could buy Andrew a present. She never buys me presents unless it’s my birthday or Father’s day or the holidays. What’s Andrew have that I don’t? I went online to find support from fellow parents. Surely they’d offer a parental shoulder to lean on. One woman said, “I don’t blame her. He’s hot.” Another said, “She’s smart!”
In my mind, I always ran through scenarios for the girls and their first boyfriends. It involved scaring the boyfriends, embarrassing the girls and making sure the boys knew dad would be watching. But the 4-year-old crush was not a plan I spent much time working on. Now, I could try and discredit Andrew, assassinate his character and make sure Andreya knows he has cooties, but hopefully this will all blow over soon enough without me ever having to take any drastic measures. One thing is for sure, I’m in for years of grey hair and heart palpitations as Andreya gets older and I better get ready.
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Image of cute little girl submerged courtesy of Shutterstock