By Gregory Keer

Following is a re-post of a kids Valentine’s Day column I wrote when my now 11 year old was in kindergarten. Truth be told, his writing skills still put me to shame.

Valentine’s Day is coming up and I’m already sweating over what my middle child will write on the little cards he’ll pass out to his kindergarten classmates. Most six-year-olds stick to filling out the basic TO: and FROM: blanks that accompany the cuddly bear or fluffy duck illustrations. Not my little Romeo. I figure he’ll write special sentiments to the handful of girls he fancies. I’m picturing lines such as, “I like your soft, silky hair, Jessica” and “I had a wonderful time on our playdate, Anna. Let’s do it again sometime.”

People think I’m exaggerating about Jacob’s love note writing, but he also flecks his daily speech with gold-plated words like “silky” and “wonderful” as if he’s a 45-year-old Casanova. He rarely misses paying a compliment toward females of all ages, from his peers to his teacher. He’s twice written about Mrs. Harris for the “Character Counts” descriptions he is assigned each week. These are, thankfully, sweet rather than sassy as he calls her “the nicest and best teacher in the whole world.” Then, there are the bold comments he makes to the moms he sees at the afternoon pick-up (pun intended). To one of the mothers, I heard him say, “That sweater makes your figure look good,” with an earnest smile that renders more innocent a sentence that sounds like a singles bar come-on.

While I have concerns that he’s a bit more romantically precocious than I’d like, my bigger issues rests in the fact that the little turd is showing me up. Not only does he say things to women that I wish I had thought of when I was an unattached adult, he writes the most charming notes to my wife. At least once a week, sometimes more, he draws colorful designs on index cards and any other paper he can find to go with “Thank you for being such a good Mommy” sentences. He even leaves these notes in clever locations, including Wendy’s laptop bag and under her pillow. I don’t know where he gets this emotive skill, but the bottom line is that I can’t compete with him — and that pisses me off.

Now I’ve got Wendy asking me, “Why don’t you write love notes like you used to?” I could reply with, “I don’t know, honey, why don’t you leave steamy messages on my cell phone anymore?” but her question makes me a little wistful. In our early years, I wrote Wendy all kinds of messages on post-its, stationery, and expensive artsy cards. I scribbled poems, proclamations of my undying love, and occasional ribald jokes. I planted them on the bathroom mirror, in her suitcases, and, yes, under her pillow.

Sure I hack out an occasional adoring e-mail, but these days, she’s lucky if she gets a prewritten card on her birthday. So I wonder, where did my Cyrano-like habit go? Is it there, somewhere buried beneath all the words I have to write on checks to the bank and college letters of recommendations for my students? That’s part of the reason, but another cause for the more shallow word well is that I often feel the pressure to say something new and creative, more indicative of the stage our relationship is in. Yet, I just can’t bring myself to write, “My darling, I long to ravish you amid the laundry piles and sandbox granules in our sheets” or “Our love is like a school backpack — filled with all the homework questions I’m thrilled to be answering with you.”

As rusty as I am with the practice of love note writing, I am actually more appreciative of my son’s suave skills than I am envious of them. He is unafraid of pouring out his feelings and observations into words, not yet aware of the world’s cynicism toward sentimentality. So I encourage him and help him spell “I appreciate you” and “I love you as deep as the ocean.” In turn, he spurs me on to jot a few more notes to my wife than I had been writing. They aren’t all that original or clever, but the mere presence of the letters on the paper makes them real and true.

Posted in Columns by Family Man, Humor, Love and Courtship | 1 Comment

Bill Harley – High Dive

Reviewed by Gregory Keer

I used to tell my eldest child these stories about a group of heroes called the Black Robots, who teamed up with my son to save the neighborhood and the world from evil dinosaurs and invading aliens. As I got older, my patience for making up these kinds of stories got thinner and, regrettably, my middle child only got a few tales of a character called the Red Pirate (my wife originated the character). My youngest got a couple of hackneyed stories that aren’t memorable at all as I ran out of gas for original yarns.

I still read books to my littlest son, but there’s just something so darn engaging and imagination stirring about a story told orally, without pages and with plenty of gusto. Thankfully, I found Bill Harley to be my surrogate storyteller. Here’s a guy who seemingly never runs out of patience and happiness in telling tales, as his latest recording, High Dive and other things that could have happened…, proves in its four narratives.

In his folksy manner, and with plenty of musical accompaniment, Harley unspools the dramatic threads of life between the ages of eight and eleven. “It Could Have Happened” speaks of the very act of telling stories that may be hard to believe, yet that’s part of the magic of the storytelling act. “High Dive” is a nearly 12-minute rhyming tale with a jazzy vibe about negotiating a big jump into a pool and puppy love. “Field Trip” is an epic 30-plus minutes that delves into friendship and the antics (including water balloons) of grade schoolers. Lastly, “Monster Valentine” brings to life the innocent feelings involved in giving cards on that lovely holiday.

While the content level of these stories is most suited for elementary school-aged kids, Harley’s warm voice and character-filled inflections can hold the attention of younger – and, frankly, grown up – audience members. – $15 (CD) – Ages 2 to 11

Posted in Family Man Recommends, Family Music, Love and Courtship | Leave a comment

Dating Dad: Remote

By Eric S. Elkins

A year or so ago, I received a Facebook friend request from a really beautiful woman. Honestly, I might have accepted the request not knowing anything else about her, but she wrote that she’d been one of Simone’s preschool teachers years ago, and upon a closer look, I recognized her. I remembered the young, sultry teacher around whom I’d studiously maintained a low-key sort of coolness, not wanting to screw anything up for Simone by being the creepy dad who ogles the teacher (it was good practice, and is actually serving me well this school year, if you know what I mean).

After I accepted the friend request, we started communicating a little bit, and I learned that she was now a single mom of two very young children, living in a remote town in Colorado. She wanted to hear all about her Simoney, and I was happy to share. The more we talked, the more we found we had in common. When she mentioned that she’d be in Denver for a conference in a few weeks, I expressed an interest in crossing paths.

The exigencies of our parenting schedules (she and her kids were staying with her mother) and her conference commitments gave us only a short window of time to see each other — not more than a few hours one evening. But from the moment we made eye contact, the connection was electric. Our first hug felt both familiar and thrilling, and I couldn’t believe she was even prettier than I’d remembered. One of those rare, ethereal beauties, she had soulful brown eyes, a delicate face, and an achingly sweet smile that seemed to carry a secret within it. The evening was a stunner — not knowing the nature of our rendezvous, I was elated when, after lots of conversation, the kissing began. Everything fit, and it was all I could do not to feel smitten.

In fact, a couple days later, when she was able to come out for just a little while and meet me at my home for an afternoon, I said, “Oh no, I can already feel it starting.” She laughed and kissed me hard on the mouth.

The situation was both beautiful and depressing — she and her two kids lived in a faraway town that wasn’t easy to get to. With her ex and his family there, moving herself and the kids to Denver would be out of the question; just like me, she believed in the importance of her children having both parents in their lives. When we said our goodbyes, we promised each other we’d find a way to spend more time together soon.

But airfares and commitments and parenting and everything else got in the way, and we didn’t see each other for a couple of months. Again, we felt that thrill of connection, but she was much more pragmatic this time around, keeping a bit of distance at first, but finally unable to resist the pull of our ridiculous chemistry. We spent a couple of beautiful evenings together, with her returning to her mother’s house late each night.

I remember taking her to my favorite bar for pre-dinner cocktails, and somehow settling right into the girlfriend-boyfriend dynamic. She told me later that she felt the same thing — it was like we were a couple, and I wasn’t self-conscious in the least about holding her hand as I introduced her to the most delicious martinis on the planet.

I’ll admit that I was close to tears when she left town that time, feeling hopeless, and wondering at God’s sense of humor. I finally met a woman who was right for me in every way, with whom I shared chemistry and connection, whom I could love so easily and for so long, and she lived 800 miles away.

And, yes. I know what you’re thinking. That perhaps the reason I could love her so freely was because there was no danger of a real relationship with her. I get that. I agonized over it. I talked to my shrink about it — about my feelings and about our impossible situation.

After that trip to Denver, she went on radio silence. I respected her lack of communication. It seemed like spending time together was just a way to keep our hearts aching. It was pointless. She eventually emailed me those exact thoughts, explaining that the way she felt about me would make it impossible for her to find love closer to home. I understood. I had the same concerns for myself.

But that didn’t make my heart ache any less.

Mid-summer came along, and she let me know that she and the kids would be in town for a few days. If I was up for meeting her for lunch, she’d love to see me for a little while. The message was clear — we can only be friends, and the way to ensure that we don’t get caught up in each other again is to only meet in safe places… during the day.

Man plans, God laughs.

We settled on a gorgeous country Japanese restaurant downtown, and she was waiting for me outside the door with that mysterious smile of hers. Our hug lasted a long time; I don’t think either one of us wanted to let go. Finally, we followed the hostess to a little wooden table in the beautiful garden area behind the restaurant, where we ordered noodles and soups and tender side dishes of Japanese delicacies. I realized before she did that we were being incredibly solicitous of one another: I’d wave a low-flying insect away from her sashimi, she’d gently wipe the little splash of soy sauce off my cheek. We couldn’t help it; we’re both wired to care for others, and putting us together was like the perfect storm of mutually nurturing behavior.

I’d craved that responsiveness for so long. It was the first time I’d met someone who was so naturally caring since the days of the Peach.

We talked about nothing of consequence, avoiding any danger of drifting into the terrain of heartbreak. We kept it light. But in our shady corner of the garden, with its tall, fragrant blossoms, the quiet buzz of other diners, and the indolent warmth of a summer afternoon, it was easy to drift into the complacent contentment of the moment. We hugged goodbye. I kissed her lightly at the apex of one of her perfect cheekbones. She put her hand to my cheek, and kissed me on the lips. And then she got in her car and drove away.

But she couldn’t stay away that week, and managed to sneak over for a little while Saturday morning. She found me reading on an air mattress on my balcony, still in my pajamas. After curling up with me for a few minutes, she managed to lure me out for brunch down the block, followed by a visit to our local panadéria. As we stood together, hand-in-hand, looking at the magical array of Mexican delectables, I had a vision of us doing the exact same thing, but in some faraway country.

As we walked back to my place, I said, “You know, it would be amazing to travel together someday.”

“I was thinking the same thing,” she said.

Which became an ongoing text conversation for the next month — where would we travel together? What would it be like? I told her that we should try something small, first — spend a weekend together away from our homes, like in Taos or San Diego. Schedules and budgets decided for us, and I bought her a plane ticket to Denver, so we could spend Labor Day Weekend together in the mountains.

Full disclosure — Summit Mountain Rentals is a ( client, and one of the perks is free lodging for me when inventory permits. And it is quite the benefit — the company manages a slew of well-appointed condos in the lively mountain town of Breckenridge. So it was a matter of a phone call to get us a romantic spot right in the center of the city.

Our anticipation was like a fever.

I picked her up at the airport, and we hightailed it for the hills. This was our chance to see what it would be really like. We’d never spent more than a few hours at a time together, but now we’d have two days and two nights to really see what was possible. Sure, the longterm situation hadn’t changed, but that didn’t matter.

The weekend was definitely romantic, but only to a point, and it turned out to be ultimately disappointing for both of us. We found little incompatibilities, differences in communication, and something undefinable that made us both realize that we weren’t quite right for each other. As much as we loved each other, and enjoyed each other’s company, our weekend together never caught fire. Maybe we were both distracted, or overly careful, or just not into it. Maybe the timing was off. Whatever it was, by the time I dropped her at the airport, the hug goodbye was real, but the kiss was perfunctory.

I drove home that afternoon feeling a sense of desolation. She hadn’t even thanked me for the weekend, and that just sealed what I’d felt. Something was missing between us.

As time passed, I could only feel gratitude for that weekend away — we learned something valuable; it helped us move on in our own worlds without the heartbreak of a breakup. And it helped me realize that I was still capable of feeling smitten and could still surrender to love and possibility.

We’re still friendly, catching up here and there. I’m excited that I’ll get to see her when she comes to town in a month or so. She might not be the right woman for me, but I’ll always adore her.

Note: Out of respect for our experience and love for each other, I ran this column by her before posting it. So before you start beating me up for sharing a story about a real person, know that she read it and approved it before anyone else did.

Eric Elkins’ company  specializes in using social media and ePR strategies to develop constellations of brand experiences, delivering focused messages to targeted segments. Read more of his Dating Dad chronicles at , or tell him why he’s all wrong by emailing

Posted in Dating Dad, Divorced Dads, Featured Moms & Dads, Love and Courtship, Single Fathers | Leave a comment

Kids on Love

By Gregory Keer

I can spend a lot of my days calibrating my parenting machinery in the belief that I can become a more effective father, yet it all comes down to the fact that I feel love for my kids and they know that I love them (yes, I made them swear under oath that this is true). While I appreciate the complexity of life and the pursuit of good child care in particular, parenting can be summed up in lessons of love that we teach by modeling it with our partners and other fellow humans and explaining its nuances to our children.

Still, kids don’t just learn love from us. They get schooled about it by the world around them, from their friends to the media. As they grow, they view matters of the heart differently as they become more or less open, imaginative, and guarded (usually a combination of these things).

For this Valentine month, I interviewed a small sample of boys and girls, ranging from two years old to 12, and including my own emotionally philosophizing kids. While we talked, it became apparent that they were most interested in talking about romance, which is of course the foundation for all the love that follows in a family. As such, the three questions that made the cut here are ones that ask the kids to describe what love is and what a person does with it.

What is love?

Anika (3): Family.

Eve (5): Love means when you love somebody. That means you care about somebody and share.

Arielle (5): When you love somebody and you feel they love you, and your heart loves somebody.

Ari (6): Love is being together.

Ashton (7): Love is when you’re kind.

Hannah (8): Love is caring. Not being mad at everything. Love is kissing and hugging and doing nice things.

Jacob (9): Your heart gets taken by the person you are in love with. My friends and family. A force from the universe that creates people’s hearts to be taken by someone else.

Zander (9): Friendship, family, and a few other things.

Benjamin (12): I don’t want to answer this.

Jasmine (12): Love is when you’re with the one special person, you can’t see anyone else in the room. Love is the warm feeling you get in your heart.

Sarah Rose (12): It’s when you really care about someone.

What happens to you when you fall in love?

Eve (5): You feel like someone is falling in love with you. That feels like somebody is hugging.  And somebody is caring and caring. They put their hearts together to be nice to each other.

Arielle (5): They kiss and get married. They love each other. They can’t stop kissing.

Ashton (7): You marry.

Hannah (8): I don’t know, I’ve never fallen in love.

Zander (9): Some people get married. 

Jacob (9): Some people smooch.

Benjamin (12): This is a really odd question.

Jasmine (12): You want to spend every waking moment with the love of your life.

Sarah Rose (12): You get happier and you treat people nicer.

What do people in love do?

Anika (3): When you love someone, you want little kids and little girls.

Eve (5): They hug and they kiss. They marry when they’re boyfriend and girlfriend.

Arielle (5): They kiss.

Ari (6): They do everything together. Ask me more stuff about love!

Ashton (7): Kiss.

Hannah (8): They kiss and hug and give gifts. They go on dates.

Jacob (9): They play with each other. They are passionate with each other. They don’t show it because they’re too embarrassed to show it because they don’t think the other person will love them back.

Zander (9): They go around with each other. Friends that play together.

Benjamin (12): It’s a really stupid question.

Jasmine (12): Wanting to hold their partner close and love them more than anyone else does.

Sarah Rose (12): They hug and kiss, go see movies and eat popcorn together. And they bake cakes together.

If we go by my limited research, love is about baking cakes, hoping to be loved back, being friends, getting married, and being so happy you’re nicer to everyone else. Frankly, I can’t imagine that a survey of adults would come up with more insightful responses.

Here’s to love and all that we have to teach our children — and all they have to teach us — about it.

Posted in Columns by Family Man, Humor, Love and Courtship | Leave a comment

Predatory Birds and Killer Bees

By Gregory Keer

I thought I’d be good at explaining the birds and the bees to my children. My own parents left the heavy lifting to a read-aloud of the book Where Do I Come From? when I was 11. So I planned to customize the lessons for each kid’s personality, giving the right information without overdoing it.

Based on the first three talks, I’ve been a disaster.

“Benjamin knows what the ‘s’ word is,” my wife told me four years ago on one fateful evening.

“You mean the bad word for ‘poopie’?” I said.

“No, I think they’ve been giggling about ‘sex’ at school,” she responded. “You have to talk to him now.”

“Why me?” I groaned. “He’s eight years old. Isn’t this too soon?”

“If you don’t do it, his friends will, and he’ll get the wrong information,” she reasoned.

So, I sat Benjamin at the kitchen table with every intention of being a wise teacher.

“Do you know what sex is?” I opened.

Benjamin fought a smile and shook his head.

“You know that boys have penises and girls…have…vag…”

Then I whinnied like a ticklish horse. Benjamin laughed so hard, he fell off his chair.

It took me a while to regain my composure, but I managed to frame sex as something that happens when people love each other and want to have a baby. I saved the more complicated details for years later.

For his part, Benjamin emitted a few “eewww’s” that assured me he was far from sexual activity. However, he did have one question.

 “Why are you telling me all of this?”

“Because we heard you were using the ‘s’ word,” I said.

“You mean the bad word for ‘poopie’?” he giggled.

Later, I told my wife I would never trust her interpretation of anything ever again.

Flash forward to the 2009-2010 parenting season, which has been punctuated by two sex talks.

The first one involved talking to Benjamin (11 at the time) about his changing body and view of the opposite gender. Once again, Benjamin was tight-lipped. So, wouldn’t you know, I pulled out a copy of Where Do I Come From? and read it to him. I’ve never seen the kid so engrossed in illustrations in my life.

Overall, it was a good introduction for the shorter talks we’ve since had regarding girls and the emotions that accompany adolescence.

Then, there was the dialogue I had with Jacob (8) after dinner one night.

“Daddy, I know what sex is, it’s when a man puts his penis in a woman’s vagina and she gets pregnant and that’s where the baby comes out, out of her vagina.”

Yes, it was all one sentence.

“Wendy!” I yelled across the house. “Can you handle this one?”

When she came in, Jacob hit her with the information.

“Mommy, I know what sex is, it’s when a man puts his penis in a woman’s vagina and she gets pregnant and that’s where the baby comes out, out of her vagina.”

Wendy took one look at me and said, “He’s a boy. You’re a boy. Talk to him.”

And she scrammed.

Jacob beamed at me from the couch. I sat down with him.

“Do you have any questions?” I asked, hoping he wouldn’t.

“Does it have to happen in a bed, or can you do it standing up, or on a table?” he rattled off.

I wondered if it was wrong to offer him ice cream just to retract the question.

“Most people do it in a bed,” I said, praying he wouldn’t ask how his mother and I conceived him.

“When I want to do it, do I just bump into the girl and say ‘sorry,’ then she’s pregnant?” he said.

“It takes a little longer,” I muttered.

“Does it hurt?” he wondered.

“It’s nice, usually…where did all of these thoughts come from?” I countered.

“I heard some of it from Franklin, but also from Rain,” he admitted. “Rain said if that’s what happens, she just wants to adopt.”

The comment was good for a laugh, but I cautioned him that it’s best to have conversations about sex with Mommy or Daddy since we have the most facts.

“Can we talk some more about naked stuff,” he continued.

“Not tonight,” I said with a grin. “But make sure you ask Mommy all about it tomorrow.”

That was fair. It takes two to make a baby, so there might as well be two making a mess of explaining how it happens.

Posted in Columns by Family Man, Humor, Love and Courtship, Sex Ed | Leave a comment

Playing House

By Gregory Keer

Almost two years ago, my son got married. It was a private affair. Just Ari, his beloved Maddie, and a few friends. After the simple ceremony, the couple and their guests sat down to a meal of fish sticks and carrots. No limousine picked up the newlyweds. Instead of going on a honeymoon, the couple — their shirts stained with grape juice, their cheeks smudged with washable paints — went home with their respective carpools.

It wasn’t until that night, after Maddie’s mom Sharon called my wife to share the news, that I learned about the marriage. Preparing to read a bedtime story to Ari (three-and-a-half years old at the time), I inquired about the wedding.

“Did something special happen at school today?” I asked.

“Oh yeah, Maddie and I got married,” he said matter of factly.

I choked back a chuckle. Ari and Maddie had been “dating” for close to two years. The months before their betrothal was filled with napping side by side and impassioned jealousies regarding how often they played blocks with other suitors.

“Why did you choose her?” I wondered.

“Because I love her and she loves me,” he said. “Now please read the book.”

Ari leaned on me, stuck his thumb in his mouth and his blanket under his arm. This tow-headed preschooler thought of himself as a married man. Who was I to judge?

I often find myself wondering how I got here myself. When did I go from being five years old, playing house with Kathy Kincaid from across the street, to a man in his 40s with a wife, three sons, a home, a job, and the other accessories of a grown-up life?

On the rare occasion when I’m alone with nothing to do and everyone else asleep, I sit on the couch and ponder all of this. I survey the strewn sweatshirts, game pieces, and orphaned socks my boys frequently forget to put away. I stare at the photographs on the walls and shelves capturing the memories of amusement parks and vacations. Then I go to the rooms of my sons just to listen to them breathe.

I reach my own bedroom to see my wife barely visible under the covers. Her piles of graded papers and correspondence from the committees she’s involved in spread over the nightstand.

“We forgot to sign the field-trip form for Jacob,” she mumbles throatily before drifting off again.

I sign the form and climb beneath the blankets. I stare at this woman. Her hair is disheveled; a slight frown knits her eyebrows. This is the person I married with whom I have built a life full of all the people and experiences I once only dreamed about.

There are plenty of times when I have shortness of breath, weighed down by myriad responsibilities. Occasionally, I succumb to the fantasy flashes of writing great novels in a solitary mountain cabin or of a playboy lifestyle of being surrounded by exotic women and powerful men admiring of my status.

Then there are the real moments when I know I am damn lucky to have Wendy. She’s smart, sexy, strong, and incredibly tolerant of my downfalls. But what always strikes me about our marriage is our mutual interest in working our butts off to make the partnership grow. We have plenty of leaks and holes in our marital fortress, yet we continue to patch them up while adding new rooms to labor and play in.

Our sons learn a lot about the nuts and bolts of marriage because we hide little from them. This may have helped Ari when he found out Maddie had moved to another school. He cried, but took heart in Wendy’s promise to help him phone and e-mail the woman he calls “my wife.”

Two years into the relationship, Ari maintains his unique affection for Maddie. Before his fifth birthday party, I caught him ransacking his dresser drawers.

“I have to find the right clothes to wear for Maddie,” he explained, worried since he had not seen her in a couple of months.

When Sharon brought her daughter to the door, Ari smiled broadly and guided Maddie into the party to show her around.

“She spent an hour picking out the right dress because she wanted to look good for her husband,” Sharon said.

And so it was. Two little people acting like a committed, eternally excited married couple. May they be as blessed as their parents.

Posted in Columns by Family Man, Humor, Love and Courtship, Marriage | Leave a comment

Girl Crazy

By Gregory Keer

At age 7, I had no idea why I wanted Sherry Green’s attention, but I liked being next to her in the line for chocolate milk. We’d smile at each other while sharpening our pencils. We’d pick each other for the same kickball team.

One day, we actually had a conversation, in the middle of the playground at our elementary school. Shyly, I kicked the tar that filled the asphalt cracks as we talked about our favorite TV shows. Then, her friend Melanie showed up and Sherry started wailing on me with her little leather purse.

“Stop talking to me, Gregory Keer! Get away from me!”

In shock, I took a couple more whacks before I ran for my life. To this day, I do not know what happened. Sherry tried to approach me several times, but I wasn’t interested in more random abuse.

Twenty years later, I got over my confusion with women long enough to marry Wendy. I still have my moments of cluelessness around her, but it’s nothing compared to what’s in store for my sons.

Benjamin (now 6) and Jacob (2 1/2) have their own — though very different — issues with the opposite sex. Benjamin has a couple of girl friends, but, for the most part, he has bought into that “girls are aliens” theory.

The other night, we learned that he had spent time in the “uncooperative chair” and we asked him what he did to try the patience of his kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Renetzky.

“I was a little too wiggly,” Benjamin said with a smile and a wiggle.

“What do you mean, ‘wiggly’?” my wife asked.

“All the boys have a problem being wiggly,” Benjamin. “We just can’t help ourselves.”

“Do any of the girls spend time in the uncooperative chair?” my wife inquired like a maternal Diane Sawyer.

“Not really. The girls always talk, though. The boys are quiet when the teacher is talking. We’re just wiggly,” he explained.

Fascinated by my Benjamin’s budding interest in gender studies, I queried him about other things he might have noticed. “What do you guys like to play when you’re on the yard?”

“We dig tunnels in the sand and go on missions. Sometimes we play basketball,” he said.

“Do you ever play with the girls?” I wondered.

“Not really. They play with Barbies,” he said.

“Do you think any of the girls is pretty,” I asked.

My son shook his head like I was crazy, “Forget about it.”

Currently, Benjamin isn’t close to having a crush. But last year, one girl would sit at storytime with her arm around him — and his arm around her! — like they were cuddling on a couch. They even “married” each other in a pretend ceremony held in their pre-K classroom.

Later in the year, Benjamin had a playdate with a pair of adorable twins. Benjamin endured their competitive declarations of “I’m gonna marry Benjamin! No, I’m gonna marry Benjamin.” He got so fed up, he announced, “I’m already married!”

Of course, the marriage didn’t last and, during the summer at camp, Benjamin participated in another round of mock weddings by marrying himself (we have the certificate to prove it).

Now, my younger son is a different story. It appears that girls, especially older ones, love his devilish smile, which somehow outweighs his penchant for putting sand in their hair.

Earlier this year, Wendy and Jacob were at a playground where two preschool girls, Sydney and Emma, invited Jacob into the playhouse with him. Inside, they began bickering.

“He’s mine,” Sydney said, taking Jacob’s hand.

“No, I want him,” Emma said, pulling him to sit in the corner.

All the while, Jacob laughed like a mini-Austin Powers, obviously delighting in the attention.

Not that Jacob doesn’t reciprocate. Whenever we visit Sydney’s house, Jacob follows her around, saying “Sydneee” like a European womanizer. He’s also pretty attached to Emma, as he proved at a breakfast we had with her family the other week. All the kids sat at their own table, keeping their manners admirably until Jacob’s fondness for Emma got out of hand. The kid was draped all over her, hugging her face and nearly sitting in her plate of $2.99 French toast.

“If he gets any closer to my daughter, we’re going to have to discuss a prenup,” her father cracked.

So far, the only legal union in our household involves Wendy and I. She’s also the one woman who holds the key to my sons’ hearts. Clearly, they’ve made a wise choice. Despite my inability to read her meanings on certain occasions (all my fault, of course), I’m thrilled that this woman with the huge smile shares the secrets of her soul only with me.

In this month of Mother’s Day, I wish for my sons the kind of girl Daddy has. For my wife, I promise the eternal love of a husband who’s just happy you haven’t hit him with a handbag.

Posted in Columns by Family Man, Love and Courtship, Sex Ed | Leave a comment