My son turned seven two months ago, and will begin his second year in elementary school after this summer.
Yesterday he received a love letter by one of his class mates, a girl of the same age. She wrote that she is in love with him and asked if they could meet in secret. She also asked him not to tell their class mates or parents. I learned of the letter, because I was sitting at the table with my son when we opened the day's mail, but I suspect he would have told me anyway, because he was clearly out of his depth with that declaration.
You might think the whole matter cute, but the problem is that my son vaguely dislikes this girl and at the same time is the kind of person who strongly feels the pain of others and does not want to hurt her.
The girl lives two houses away from us and visited the same kindergarten as my son. When we moved here, four years ago, we tried to get the two kids to befriend each other and went to the playground, swimming and elsewhere a couple of times with the other family. The girl very much liked and wanted to spend time with my son right from the beginning. But my son soon lost interest in her as he made other friends, and his initial openness slowly turned into a mild form of dislike as he realized a basic incompatibility between them, yet she kept attempting to connect with him.
My son is quite popular with his peers, and he has a score of close and favourite friends, about a third of which are girls. The girl in question, on the other hand, appears to have only a few, exclusively female, friends. My son and his friends are of course interested in each other's physical differences and show their private parts to each other when they believe no adults are watching, but as yet none of them have shown any signs of attempts at romantic love.
Against this background the love letter is doubly incongruous: because my son is not yet interested in girls in this way, and because he is not interested in this girl even as a friend.
Since my son did not know how to deal with this letter, I helped him compose a reply. I thought and told him a reply is a necessary courtesy and that he should make his disinterest in a romantic relationship unmistakeably clear. I'm the kind of person who immediately gets cured of an infatuation upon being refused, so I try to quickly set those free who are unlucky enough to fall in love with me and not encounter a corresponding feeling.
To my surprise my son also said he would be willing (not interested!) to go swimming with the girl. So he added that offer to the reply. He went and put his letter in the girl's mailbox this morning. Her reply promptly arrived around lunch: she asks if he wants to go swimming tomorrow, which is fine, but covered the letter in lipstick kisses, which clearly shows that she did not understand (or believe) my son's refusal and that she lives in a fantasy world quite unlike that of my son, in which love letters covered in kisses don't yet exist. He knows of love, of course, but in his conception it is something that adults do and he is interested in it in the same way that he is interested in where money comes from or what cancer is: as something that does not directly affect him.
My son is gone for two weeks now and won't receive the girl's second letter before he returns. I have called the girl's mother and told her that my son won't be able to go swimming with her daughter tomorrow (and nothing else).
But the question remains how he (and I) should deal with this matter. I am worried that the girl will keep pressing for my son's affection and make both herself and him unhappy with her dependence. But should I interfere? Should I tell the girl's parents and hope they will be able to help her accept my son's disinterest and turn her desire for, I guess, friendship to more likely candidates? What kind of advice can I give him, who is not only not interested in this girl, but also not even interested in the problem of love, and now has to deal with emotions that are not part of his current stage of development?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
I was so unsure about this that I did not do anything at all at that time. The summer holidays and a lengthy trip came on between the two kids going swimming together, and then I forgot about it all until, a few weeks ago, a second letter arrived. I hesitated to deliver it and put it among my paperwork, where it remains unopened and unread. I felt and still feel that the letters take this all to a different level and put more pressure on my son than he deserves. The two kids are in the same class, so they meet and interact almost daily, and twice in the intervening time my son came home telling me that that girl is in love with him, and after a short pause, but he not with her. Then he proceeded to tell me that another boy from his class is in love with another girl, but she not with him either. And then he turned to other, more immediate matters. So I feel that it is not such a big issue after all, neither for him nor the girl, and I do not interfere as long as it remains so.