My sweet Savannah started middle school this past year and let me tell you – middle school kids are a different beast. Hormones take over their ever-changing bodies and they become crazy, gangly creatures. Boys are mean, girls are catty. And the drama! Oh, it’s like watching a soap opera of 12-year-olds. Someone hates someone else, there are love triangles, fights over the silliest things. I don’t remember this being such a big deal for me when I was growing up, but my momma says it sure was.
So my Savvy had her first crush on an adorable young man named Hayden Parker. He’s twelve like Savvy, has surfer blond hair, plays drums in the band, and also happens to live in our neighborhood. They’ve known each other since they were old enough to walk, but it’s like suddenly Hayden has gone from playmate to potential boyfriend material.
Chase, of course, is beside himself and has threatened to buy a dozen guns scare Hayden away. I told him to lay off. I mean, one, they probably will not end up married (but how amazingly sweet if they did?). Two, they’re twelve. Not twenty. And three, we’ve known the Parkers for years. They’re a good, Christian family with great values. We’d trust them completely with our children and vice versa. Besides, Hayden has no idea Savannah has started making googly eyes for him.
And she wants to keep Hayden in the dark. She is adamant that Hayden not know how she feels. Still, I told her to invite him and his sister, Lissy, over for lunch. She would not hear of it. Nothing to let on that she liked him.
“But you’re still his friend, right? Did that change?”
She bit her lip. “No, we’re still friends.”
“And he’s been over for lunch before,” I pointed out.
“But I wouldn’t know how to act,” Savannah admitted.
“Act like you always do. And they come over for lunch all the time.”
She hemmed and hawed until Jace huffed a big sigh, grabbed his bike helmet, and took off down the road himself. We watched from the kitchen as he knocked on the door. Within a minute, he was biking back over with Hayden and Lissy behind him.
As they came in through the door, Savannah grabbed her younger brother by the collar and dragged him through a closed door. I could only imagine she was interrogating him on what he might have said to Hayden about her. I did my best to distract.
“Hey there, Parkers! Lissy, I think Caroline is in her room if you want to go on up. I’m just getting plates to make lunch.”
Lissy’s eyes lit up and she took off up the stairs. She was the same age as Caroline and they loved to put on shows for whoever would watch.
Hayden looked around the kitchen. “Where did Jace go?”
“Savvy had to tell him something, they’ll be right back,” I said as I poured him a glass of cold lemonade. He only nodded as he took the glass from me.
After a moment, my children came back out of hiding. Savannah’s face was flushed and she would not look towards Hayden. Jace looked a little worse for wear, but I saw no blood or brokenness so I let it go.
“Hayden! Wanna ride skateboards?”
Hayden started to light up and agree but then he stopped himself. I watched without trying to be obvious. “Savannah, what were you going to do?” he asked.
She quickly looked to him, then away again. “I don’t know. Maybe I’ll read outside for a few minutes. I can watch y’all skate,” she said as she grabbed a worn copy of her favorite book.
All three went outside and Savvy sat in the shade, book closed in her lap as the boys put on helmets and knee pads. Hayden’s one knee pad kept coming loose and I watched as he went over to Savannah and handed it to her.
I held my breath for her. He was purposely making it so he had to go to her. She hesitated for a moment before taking the knee pad and placing it on Hayden’s knee. She held it in place as she stretched the velcro band around the back of his leg. I could see Hayden talking to her and wished I could read lips.
I fired off a text to the Grit Girls.
OMG. Hayden here. Savvy putting a knee pad on him and TOUCHING HIS LEG. It’s tween hormone city!
I got an immediate reply from Frankie Ann.
Take a photo!
I snapped a picture as covertly as I could. Savvy sitting on the ground, Hayden standing over her, looking at her. I sent it off and immediately tears began to well in my eyes.
Y’all. I am crying watching this. It’s so sweet.
I couldn’t believe I was crying over this. But I had a glimpse of my baby girl, my oldest child, one day being a helpmate to her future husband. Whether it was Hayden or not, I saw her future as a wife and mother (and professional, I didn’t forget that).
“Momma, whatcha crying about?” Magnolia, my sweet cherub-faced baby, asked.
“Oh, nothing. Silly momma things,” I told her as I swiped the wetness away.
She shrugged and skipped off, baby doll in hand.
I quickly called Hayden’s mom, Melissa. “Melissa, it’s Kate. Yeah, listen, I hate to ask you this, but would you happen to know how Hayden feels about Savvy?”
She chuckled on the other end. “What do you mean? Like a crush?”
“Yes,” I replied. “Savvy has developed a mad crush on Hayden in the past little bit. My word, she’s got it bad. I admit I’m kind of spying on them. Right now they’re in the back yard with Jace and Hayden just asked Savannah to put a knee pad on for him, acting like he couldn’t get it right.”
“Oh, my. Well, ordinarily I’d say that was just silly, but I did see him write out her name the other day. When I noticed and asked he immediately started writing other names and said they were kids in his class,” Melissa said. “But listen, no name was a big and frilly as Savannah’s.”
“I’m going to send you a picture,” I told her. I quickly texted the photo to her.
A few seconds later she gasped. “Bless their hearts. Kate, start dress shopping.”
“Oh, that is so sweet. Well, you know we love Savvy and all y’all.”
I smiled. “Likewise. Okay, I better run and feed this crew.”
We hung up and I plated sandwiches for everyone and pulled out the watermelon I had cut earlier. Nothing fancy, but that’s just how we roll in warm weather.
Jace came storming in and slammed the door. “Chase Michael Moffatt, Junior! We do not slam doors in this house,” I scolded.
“Mo-om,” he whined. “Hayden isn’t playing with me. He’s too busy making moon eyes at Savvy.”
I jumped to the screened door and peered out. Savvy and Hayden were standing close. Closer than usual. They were laughing, but it wasn’t the big open laugh. More like shy laughing. Butterflied flipped in my stomach. I felt giddy and it wasn’t even me out there!
But I remembered what young love had feld like. I remembered the nerves and the butterflies and feeling like you were floating on a cloud. I prayed right then and there that neither one would end up with a broken heart. I loved my girl, and Hayden was a great young man.
Their heads leaned a little closer. Heavens to Betsy! “Kids,” I yelled. “Lunch!”
They immediately separated and put some much needed space between them. But as they walked towards the house, I caught the exchanged glance between the two of them.
Puppy love at its finest. I imagined I’d be seeing more of Hayden in the near future, and his hand might be attached to my daughter’s.