All I Really Need to Know About Relationships I Learned in Kindergarten

“I bwaked up with Sawah,” the Wee Man announced with appropriate drama.

“What?! Why?!” I could not imagine what a darling 5-year-old could’ve done to deserve dumping.

“She picked her nose in the hall,” he told me.

“Are you sure? Honey, I just don’t think she’s that kind of girl.”

But he was adamant. And he’s got a real prejudice against nose-pickers. He recently declared a favorite playmate “obviously evil” because of the friend’s compunction to pick his nose and eat the findings. So I know this is a relationship deal breaker.

More questions: Does he feel sad? Are they still friends? How did she react?

His answers: No, he’s not sad. Nose-picking is “gwoss.” Of course they’re still friends, he just doesn’t like her as a girlfriend now. And she didn’t react at all because he didn’t actually tell her.

Turns out she doesn’t know she’s his girlfriend.

So my son has spun up a fake romance, a perceived fatal flaw, a damning judgment and a stormy end to the fake romance. All this about a sweet little playmate who’s so shy her mom had to help her recite her nursery rhyme on Mother Goose Day. It’s a kindergarten version of what too often happens in my adult relationships.

How often do we make snap judgments based on limited information and write a whole crazy drama in our minds about the whats, hows and whys? I see it all the time with people I love — myself included. One person says or does something that strikes someone else as rude (or funny, sweet, pathetic — fill in the reaction), and it’s completely opposite of the intended effect. Person B then has a strong reaction, Person A is confused or oblivious and miscommunication/angst/hilarity/whatever ensues.

For some reason, we seem to prefer to make up stories rather than ask for clarification. Why are we so quick to over-react or get emotional? Maybe that person who just cut you off in traffic is rushing to save someone’s life. Maybe he really has to pee. Odds are, what he did has absolutely nothing to do with who you are as a person or a desire to adversely affect your life.

So if you’re going to make up stories, make up happy ones. You mom didn’t love your sister more than you. She just appreciated your independence and trusted you to make good decisions without her input. Your husband didn’t leave his dirty clothes piled up on the floor to give you more crap to pick up. He’s just preparing a nest for the winter.

So I advised Wee Man to reconsider. Was he really sure Sarah picked her nose? Could he possibly be mistaken?

Thankfully, he came up with a new story. In this one, she didn’t pick her nose, so he can like her again. It gets better: He made her a very sweet card asking her for a (play) date. He hopes she’ll want to be his girlfriend in real life now.


I’m so proud he’s not too proud to change his mind. I keep telling my kids they get to decide how they feel and what they think, so if they don’t like how they’re feeling they should change their thoughts.

It’s sound advice. I hope I follow it, too.