“What is your favorite color?” the five-year-old girl asks my daughter.
“What’s your other favorite color?”
The girls are making pictures at the kitchen table, applying stickers and glue with abandon. Next to them, Benjamin sits abandoned.
It’s his play date. His friend. Fiancé, actually, since the little blond girl asked him to marry her in class earlier in the week. The romance started a whole week ago, when he came home from school with a paper heart she had cut out for him, inscribed with the words, “I love you.”
That night, Benjamin confided in his father, “Maddy makes me feel funny.”
“Good funny or bad funny?” J asked.
“Good funny. So I told her she’s like a diamond. That’s why she made me a heart.”
I told her she’s like a diamond. My kindergartener’s got game.
Since then, there’s been some serious canoodling in school, and Benjamin picks up a rock for her every day on the way to school. He also asked me if I’d be leaving him my jewelry when I died so that he could give it to Maddy. Warms the cockles of a mother’s heart.
But now he sits, forlorn, while the object of his adoration giggles with his little sister. This is not the first time this has happened, either. Despite the fact that Zachary always claims Benjamin steals his friends, it’s Lilah who cuckolds her brothers on every playdate. That’s because my sons mostly play with girls, and there’s something about Lilah that draws in older girls. Maybe it’s the curls, maybe it’s the dresses, or maybe it’s the way she looks at them as though they are a cross between Wonder Woman and Hermione Granger, but the moment they meet her, bigger girls have eyes for no one else.
“I’m going in the other room,” Benjamin announces.
“Why’d he do that?” Maddy asks Lilah.
“I think his feelings might be a little hurt,” I explain gently. “He might think you like Lilah more than you like him.” She looks up at me, surprised and concerned, then slides off her chair and follows her friend into the other room, where they build a fort out of sofa cushions.
Not a bad choice for a daughter-in-law.