Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Queen of Romance...Sorta

My romantic entanglements have been about as tame as a fluffy white kitten. In fact, the whole history of Christina’s love life can be summed up as: a boyfriend in high school, a few dates in college, a couple of nibbles that never went anywhere and a whole lot of nothing in between.

I like to think that men are simply intimidated by my stunning good looks and unsurpassed wit, but the truth is probably that most guys simply don’t care to get involved with someone whose life plan consists of a shrug and the phrase, “Maybe I’ll join the Peace Corps or something…”

Truthfully, I don’t really think about my love life (or lack thereof) very often. Certainly I have moments when I wonder if I really am headed down the Crazy Cat Lady path, but mostly I’m too busy to worry about it all that much. This is not to say that I don’t believe in marriage or wish to remain single forever. On the contrary, I think marriage is a beautiful thing and hope that someday I will meet someone just reckless enough to think binding himself to me for the next fifty years is a good idea.

However, in the meantime I have no desire to hash and rehash my romantic affairs. And so, when A* asked me this week if I had a boyfriend I was taken a bit by surprise. Of course, I answered truthfully, saying no and thinking that would be the end of the conversation. But it wasn’t. She was out for the whole sordid tale, from elementary school to the present day.

Did I have boyfriends before?
How many?
For how long?
How old was I when I had these boyfriends?
Did I go out on dates?
How many dates had I been out on?
Where did we go?
What did we do?

Aware of the fact that this conversation was being conducted in English, which is not A’s first language, I tried very hard to answer as clearly as possible, all the while with visions of a misunderstanding about my love life leading to my deportation dancing in my head. Additionally, I am not aware of dating conventions in Germany, or of the rules/thoughts of A’s parents on the subject. As such, I probably sounded like a broken record, starting every answer with, “I don’t know what it’s like in Germany, but in America…”

Now, as someone who grew up wanting to know everything about everything, I know a fishing expedition when I see one. A was not asking me these questions because she was curious about my life. She was asking because she wants to know how my experiences might or might not relate to her own. Perhaps there is a boy at school that she likes or maybe she’s been discussing dating with her friends. Either way, she wanted the low-down and since I’m not her mom but am old enough to actually know something about the subject, I was the best target. Our conversation ended when it was time for A to go to bed and she has yet to broach the subject again (probably because she learned that my love life isn’t exactly worthy of writing home about).

I am hoping that I said the right things to her, that I treated her fairly, that I was open enough to stave off any embarrassment she might have had. Matters of the heart are difficult at any age, but I remember being a teenager and wanting so badly to understand what this weird boy-girl stuff was all about. And so I give A a lot of credit for asking the questions—and in English, no less.

Of course, I didn’t tell her that the questions don’t magically answer themselves as we get older. I didn’t tell her that sometimes love actually gets more complicated when we grow up and toss jobs, politics, kids, religion, friends and selfishness into the mix. I didn’t tell her because some things have to be learned through experience, and some things can’t be learned at all.   

*Author’s Note: In order to respect the privacy of the family I work for, I will not be posting pictures or the names of the children online. “A” refers to a preteen girl, “B” is a two-year-old boy and “C” is a baby boy born in mid-summer 2011.


  1. Kids have the best questions. I know mine did. I am sure you handled it beautifully!

  2. Cute! A glimpse of what your future as a parent will behold. That is, unless you do choose the Cat Lady path :)