our son is suddenly interested in girl-friends. he's all of 7.5!
it happened at the dining table and in the middle of his description of some arcane cricket fundas. he suddenly asks his mother, 'mom, who is a girlfriend? isn't it just a friend who's a girl? thats what i told k (another boy in the complex who's one year older) but he told me that a girlfriend is someone you love'! before the big boss could allow this to sink in and collect her wits to come up with some meaningful response, he had already moved on and was asking her if she knew who played 6 down after chaminda vaas the sri-lankan one day cricket team!
big boss and i looked at each other and raised eye-brows :)
he brought it up with her again soon after. and asked her the same question. he's also been getting curious lately about marriage!
this time the big boss was much better prepared and she patiently explained to him that he was right when he said that girlfriends are only friends who happen to be girls. but once people get to a marriageable age, then they might develop a special relationship with a girlfriend and then want to marry her. this explanation seems to have resolved whatever doubts he had internally because he is now back to his non-stop chatter about all things cricket!
i have this theory (actually everybody has the same theory, so its no big deal!) that girls grow much faster and are a lot smarter than guys at that (its a different matter that they remain smarter for the rest of their lives. but thats not the point i am making here, so don't bring it up and confuse the issue here). and i saw concrete evidence of this fact in the same week the above conversation took place.
i saw two young girls, who are my son's age, playing badminton while i was on my way to the garden in our complex. i saw them suddenly stop, point, whisper and giggle. i innocently asked them what they were up to. one of them, without missing a beat, said 'nothing uncle' (please ignore the 'uncle' reference here) and moved away. the second came up to me and said in a conspirational tone, 'we were looking at that boyfriend and girlfriend. we see all of them but watch from a distance.'
that's when it hit me that these girls were aeons ahead of my son (and i think this would true of most boys of his age) about their understanding of friends and lovers and the distinction.