By Colleen Lowe Smith
Cassidy fell in love today. At two and half, it’s hardly her first time, but after meeting and playing with a new friend, on the way back to the car from the park, I witnessed the moment that her three year old beau held his hand out to her, unprompted, as an invitation. She giggled and beamed and reached for his hand. They looked in each other’s eyes and smiled so hard I thought their faces would break.
It is so simple for a two and a half year old. They hardly even spoke. They just chased each other around a bench for awhile and then down the slide, cracking up laughing. And that was it: love.
I started to think, of course, about how much more complicated it gets with age. I can’t remember being two and a half, but I distinctly remember how in love I was at four with a boy in my nursery school. I also distinctly remember hiding it from him, hiding it from anyone. My parents marriage had been on the rocks by the time I was only one, and I wonder sometimes if I’d already gotten the message that love was not safe. I spent the next twenty years hiding my affection for anyone, which is quite a shame, looking back now.
Maybe ten years ago I had a girlfriend who, as we parted from a sushi date, simply said, “I like you. See you later!” To so freely proclaim and remind those we care for, “I like you.” So simple and such warm affect! I have never forgotten the gesture.
I’ve been teaching preschool and now toddlers for so many years. I often will be with a child, and get that gush of sweetness where I am just so besotted with the little spirit I am with and I gently say in their ear, “I like you.” And every single time I get a positive reaction: they smile, or soften, or do a little dance.
Cassidy knows who she likes, knows who makes her feel good, how easy love can be. And today I was witness to that simplicity, how stunning! And what a reminder: to appreciate just how simple it can be.
Colleen Lowe Smith lived as a wanderer and Montessori pre-school teacher in ten different states and New Zealand before meeting her husband and landing in rural Massachusetts. Together, they raise their two year old daughter, and pigs. She also has a 14 year old stepdaughter and 24 year old stepson. Obsessed with higher education, Colleen has an BA in Studio Art, a MA in Interdisciplinary Studies (Human Studies), a MFA in Writing, as well as AMI certifications in Montessori education, and Psychosynthesis, a holistic form of psychotherapy. She currently teaches at an awesome Montessori school where her daughter also attends.