It wasn’t supposed to happen. I’d been strong for so long. I’d resisted him. For nearly five years, I’d kept him out of my home, out of my children’s lives. But one moment of weakness, and now our lives are forever changed.
It wasn’t all my fault. Really. I thought the curious monkey was supposed to be around, but it was this guy instead, and I caved in to my child’s pleas to see more of him. Now she’s infatuated. There’s little, if any, hope of taking her back now. He’s like preschooler crack, and she is a happy addict.
Of course, even when he was only lurking in the shadows (or the quick promotional spots on public television), I could not shield my firstborn completely. Somehow she still knew his name and the features of his large face. I don’t know how. I thought I’d made her impervious to his charm, but I was wrong. Very wrong.
Why, then, was I so surprised when she caught a glimpse of him the other day and begged to be able to see more of him?
“Why?” I asked.
“I love him,” she explained. I flinched. When did this happen? How could I be so blind? So naive? Love him? How can you love someone you don’t even know?
“Why don’t you like him, Mommy?” she asks. He really has her, I realize. He’s captured my 4-year-old’s heart.
I have no real answer. It’s a fair question, I suppose. I should have to explain my intolerance. Why am I not more open-minded?
“I just don’t like him,” I hear myself saying.
What kind of lessons am I teaching my child by snubbing the object of her affection just because he’s different than us and sickeningly saccharine sweet? I just don’t believe he’s being completely sincere. Does the guy ever have a bad day?
He’s definitely too old for her. Not to mention, too reptilian. And that voice of his. It’s annoyingly nasal. And his eggplant-purple skin and that plastered on smile and those perfect, gleaming white teeth (those have to be caps).
Oh, but Madeline has fallen hard for his timeless allure. (I mean, isn’t his kind supposed to be extinct?)
“I love Barney,” she says, eyes glazed over, face flushed with the fervor of young love.
Resist his dinosaur charm! I want to scream, but it’s too late. From her dazed expression and the dreamy tone of her voice, I know she means it. He’s singing that ridiculous song, and she’s buying it.
But I’m not. Not for a second.
“I love you, you love…”
Oh, but I don’t. Yours is an unrequited love. It always has been, and it always will be.