Maggie is amazing. She’s in the summer of her life, between 4th and 5th grade, healthy, strong, happy, popular.
She’s my third child, after two boys, so there’s always a degree of otherness to Maggie. She’s from the other side, across the tracks, an exotic creature, a girl. I don’t and can’t relate to her in the same way as I do with her brothers. With Nick and Gavin, I can sometimes crawl into their skin and say, “I know exactly how they feel. I’ve been exactly there.” But with Maggie, there’s always a little leap, even if it’s only a synaptic gap.
Which is why I’ve always identified with this page from Charlotte Zolotow:
Lisa overheard our daughter talking with her friend, Jenna. They’d been going to basketball camp together, arranging play dates, sleep-overs. Entwined. And as they were parting, Jenna called out, “I love you, Maggie!”
Maggie answered, “I love you, too!”
It was natural, relaxed, immediate, real. I mean, there was nothing phony about it. Nothing premeditated. That’s how they feel about each other and, so, they said so.
This has never happened with my boys. No judgment, I’m just saying. If Gavin or Nick loved one of his friends (which is entirely possible, even probable), 1) I don’t think he’d say so, and; 2) I’m not sure he’d know it exactly in that way or in those words. Wired differently, I guess.
I’ll have to think about this one some more. Is it harder for a boy to tell another boy that he loves him? As men, is that something we lack? I love you, dude. Right back atcha, bro.