My seven-year-old daughter recently wrote a short story to submit to a Young Authors contest in our county:
There was a lonely cheese. He lived in a little town. Everybody in the little town was happy. Except Cheese. He went home and took a nap. He woke up. Except when he woke up, he fell in love and lived happily ever after.
He fell in love with a girl. Her name was Ashley. The girl liked him too. Ashley said hi. Cheese said hi too. They were friends. They had a sleepover at Ashley’s house. Ashley is cheese too. She is American cheese. Cheese is Swiss cheese. They had fun together. Together they played games.
They had a wonderful time together. They went home together, and went home and slept.
I honestly didn’t like the story at first–I thought it sad that a child that young would think the key to happiness is to be coupled. And that being coupled seemed to solve everything–“happily ever after.” I know, you’re wondering if I’m bitter much. Not too much…My friend pointed out that my daughter understands there’s great joy and happiness to being coupled, and that’s not a bad thing. She pointed out that my daughter understands the basis for good, healthy relationships–being polite, having fun together, being friends. And that she understands two people can be very different and still have a wonderful time together.
I asked my daughter if she understood what “lonely” meant. She said, “Lonely is when you lose the person you want to play with. When you want a certain someone to be there for you and she’s not there anymore.”
I pointed out to her that there are other people she can play with, there are other people who are there for her. I pointed out that she can always meet new people too. She said simply, “It’s not the same. Lonely is when you want that certain person, not someone else, and she’s not there.”
Well then. Nothing gets by that girl. She gets things, even when she doesn’t always have the words for them. I’ve always said she feels more than the average bear–her feelings are more intense, like she’s dipped in Technicolor. She feels her way through life. She just knows. At seven, she knows the basics of relationships, and what the crux of being lonely really is. I wonder, when she’s older, who will take her breath away, who will take her Lonely away? Who will be her Swiss cheese? I know I shouldn’t be sad for this story–we’ve all visited Lonely Town. I hope it won’t be an extended stay for her.