A Fourth Grader’s Definition of “Dating”

Posted: April 1, 2015 in Family and Children, Life Lessons
Tags: , , , , , ,
The heart rock in my daughter's hands.

The heart rock in my daughter’s hands.


That’s a loaded word, huh?

It brings to mind awkward blind encounters, or endless romantic comedies, or the surprising tingle of falling for someone. There are truckloads of books about dating, endless dating advice blogs, and a dating website for every specific type of person your devious little mind could conjure up.

“We couldn’t be happier . . . we met on PeopleWhoLoveComicBooksButDespiseMarvelMoviesandOwnDogs,NotCats.com!”

My fourth grade daughter informed me yesterday that she is now dating.


“Here, Mom. Read this. But there’s no words in it.” She hands me a folded piece of notebook paper as I’m trying to decipher her meaning. (Read this but there’s nothing to read?) On the outside was written in pencil, “To Sophie” and then who it was from. When you opened the paper up, there was a white quartz rock in the shape of a heart.

M and I are dating,” she says, by way of explanation, I guess.

This is the first I’ve heard of this new M character. For most of the last year or so, it’s been the Saga of Sophie and A,

as they were “boyfriend and girlfriend,”
and then he cheated on her,
and then he was a jerk,
and then she started punching him in the arm when he tried to talk to her, which only seemed to make him like her more,
and now A sits in class and stares mooney-faced at my daughter, as it’s apparently hard to resist a girl who just really wants to punch you in the face.

So now there’s M, who gives her heart shaped objects folded in notebook paper.

A gesture that causes dating, apparently. My “Mom-mind” needed to know more.

This morning, I asked Sophie, “So what does dating mean?”

“Huh?” She said.

“You told me yesterday that you and M are now dating. What does that mean?”

She stared at me blankly. “I don’t know? We’re just . . . dating.”

“Do you chase each other outside?”


“Hold hands?”


“Punch him in the arm?”

“No, we just . . . talk to each other. He’s really funny. And really good at history, he’s the best in our class at knowing all the history stuff.”

“Funny telling jokes, or funny doing stupid boy things?” I ask.

“Funny like he makes up songs that don’t make sense.” She sings a little verse about a sandwich floating into the sewer.

“Oh! So who does that remind you of?” I ask.

She gives me a lopsided grin. “Dad.”

So, there you have it, folks. My fourth grader is “dating,” and it sounds alarmingly similar to me & Luke.

I guess that means we must be dating, too.

He does sing me (not so innocent) songs that don’t make sense.

He doesn’t give me rocks folded in paper, but he did make a giant heart out of Hershey Kisses on the floor for Valentine’s that the dog ate before I could see.

We do talk to each other quite a bit.

I guess that means dating isn’t so complicated. My fourth grader seems to understand it, anyway. Reward the boys who make sweet gestures toward you, and punch the jerks in the arm (figuratively, of course!)

I guess I’ll go ask her if she has time to work on her future bestselling dating book, The Best Dating Advice for Fourth Grade –and Beyond!



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