Blogging about Beats, tween fiction, parenting tweens, rebels, rule breakers, historical 1950s fiction and an 11-year-old who wants to meet Jack Kerouac.
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Saturday, February 13, 2016
Why We Love Crushes & Let's Count the Ways
My first crush was a guy named Jeff who was going
out with my camp counselor Sue toward the end of the summer. My friends and I
scoped them out on an overnight and decided they were “in love.” I was not
alone in my crush and in fact, having friends who were into the same guy made
it easier, because we validated each other.
We also liked a guy named Jimmy who didn’t treat
the ladies very nicely, but was fun anyway. He seemed to attract young women
who liked to live a little more dangerously, and then drop them when someone
else who was interesting came along.
Watching this happen was fascinating because it had
the potential for so many life lessons. I was trying, fast and furiously, to
learn all of them.
My next crush was in collaboration with at least
three girlfriends and happened over the course of the next two summers. Our
counselor Carol was beautiful and flirtatious and of course attracted a ton of
wanna-be guys. She seemed most interested in a tall, not-so-good looking guy
named Chuck and at first, I couldn’t understand why.
When I asked her what she saw in Chuck, Carol said
she liked his humor and the way he saw things. When we got to know him a bit
better, my friends and I agreed she was right. After a while, he started to
grow on us too and before the summer was over, we all had crushes on
I still remember Carol’s guy because in many ways
he became the prototype for what I was looking for. I think crushes can do that
for us, letting us know in quiet and not-so-quiet ways the kind of person we
want and don’t want. If the crush is a real, live person, he or she allows us
to figure out what to say and do when there’s someone we meet that interests
My favorite thing about crushes is there's usually no possibility of any real romance, so you get to try out your flirtations without consequences. For tweens, in my view, nothing could be
If you’re a parent, you are rarely going to hear
about a crush (nor should you), because it’s part of how our tweens are shaping
their identities and who wants to discuss that with mom and dad? I think the
closest a parent is going to come to knowing about a crush would be a celebrity
poster on your tween’s wall—but that, at least, may give you an idea of where he or she is going.
In The Beat on Ruby's Street, my character Ruby has a crush on Jack Kerouac. I think that tells us a lot about who she is and what she wants out of life, and tells it more clearly than if she were to talk only about herself. It is, in fact, the start and the end of Ruby's story—but not the whole story.
If you do find out about a crush, I wouldn't tell anyone, including your tween. If it sheds some light on his/her romantic inclinations, that’s a lucky break, but no one needs to know about it unless your tween wants to share. I guess I think of crushes as the first steps we take toward autonomy--and they're bound to be wobbly.
I also think
crushes rarely tell us something about our tween without telling us about
ourselves, too. And that's what makes them interesting.