Care and Feeding

I’m Worried About My First Grader’s New Crush

How should I handle his feelings?

A man sits with a book in his lap with a group of children around him, one of them has hearts around his head.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Getty Images Plus. 

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Dear Care and Feeding,

My son “Oliver” is in first grade, and, over the past few weeks, he seems to have developed a bit of a crush on his teacher. Oliver has always worn his heart on his sleeve and now when he gets back from school, all he wants to talk about is how much he likes his teacher “Mr. Lopez.” I asked him what he likes about Mr. Lopez, and he said, “Mr. Lopez is nice, he knows everything, and he has brown hair.” He’s drawn numerous pictures of Mr. Lopez and even gave his teacher one of them. The other day, he asked me if he would be able to marry Mr. Lopez when he grows up. I told him that Mr. Lopez might not be able to marry him once Oliver’s an adult, but some day Oliver will find someone like Mr. Lopez who will make him very happy.

It’s nice to know that Oliver is excited to go to school and appreciates his teacher, but I don’t know if I need to do anything about his crush. I don’t want Mr. Lopez to feel uncomfortable, or for Oliver’s feelings to raise false suspicions about him. I also don’t want to hurt Oliver and possibly cause him to lose interest in school. Another worry is that kids can be cruel, and I don’t want Oliver to be made fun of if other children find out. How should I handle my son’s feelings?

—Classroom Crush

Dear Classroom Crush,

Honestly, I think that’s super cute. Kids at that age have crushes on all types of people and things. When I was his age, I had a crush on Wonder Woman (the cartoon version). This stuff is completely normal. The good news is he likes his teacher for the right reasons—he’s kind and knowledgeable, which means he’s drawn to good, intelligent people. It’s not like your son understands romantic or sexual feelings right now. If anything, he probably admires Mr. Lopez as a role model.

I’ll go out on a limb here by saying if Mr. Lopez is competent in his job (and I’m sure he is), then this “crush” won’t freak him out in the slightest. If it makes you feel better, I don’t think it would be a bad idea to pull Mr. Lopez aside to talk to him about it so at least he can be aware if other kids end up bullying your son because of his feelings.

I don’t think there’s really anything else you need to do, other than be proud of raising a son who is open with his feelings instead of the stereotypical, emotionally unavailable boys and men out there.

You’re doing a great job.

—Doyin

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