As Jimmy's fifth birthday approached, he and his parents discussed the options for a celebration. He could have a bowling party, a sports-themed party, or a Chuck E. Cheese's party. All would include lots of friends and lots of presents to open. But Jimmy chose none of the above. What he really wanted was to go to the movies with one friend -- my daughter.
I asked my 5-year-old, Chelsea, about this precocious request. She said she couldn't wait to go out with Jimmy, whom she's taken to calling "Jimbo." Her eyes light up every morning when she sees him, and she talks about him almost every night at bedtime.
Maybe it's all the princess movies, dolls, and merchandise that turns young girls (including mine) into wannabe Cinderellas, eagerly awaiting the arrival of their Prince Charming.
I can vividly remember my older daughter, Katie, now 8, greeting my return home from work during her preschool years with the following command: "Daddy, you need to come upstairs with me right now so we can get married." And off we'd go, to exchange our vows and dance at the royal wedding in her bedroom.
Chelsea also seems to buy into the Disney-fied view that the love of her life is but a heartbeat away. She's swallowed a heavy dose of High School Musical medicine too, and Jimmy is the Troy to her Gabriella.
On a recent Sunday, they could be seen drawing side by side in the pew at church. For Valentine's Day, Jimmy gave Chelsea a necklace with Tinker Bell on it. When we explained that she and Jimmy will be in different schools for kindergarten because they live in separate towns, she bawled.
There will come a time, sooner than I'd like, when the word boyfriend will send a shiver down my spine. In anticipation of this, I've developed a three-point plan for the first suitor either of my girls brings home when they're teenagers. First, he needs to come over and do homework with her, at the kitchen table, at least two nights a week. Next, he needs to come out to dinner with us a few times. Finally, he needs to spend a weekend helping me paint the basement. Then we'll see.