My Son is “In Love” (I Blame Paris…)

The first signs came when I spotted my eight-year-old, comb in hand, staring at his reflection in the bathroom mirror. He raked his hair slowly across his forehead, leaned in and smiled. I tried to duck before he spotted me. Too late.

“What’s up there, buddy?”

A shy grin in my direction. “Mommy, do you think I could borrow a little gel? You know, for my hair?”

I tried to act casual, not wanting to embarrass him in his first show of interest in his appearance. This is a kid who would happily wear the same T-shirt everyday, shuns jeans in favor of pull-on sweats or anything “comfortable.” He loves dragons, Legos, Nerf guns, Superheroes — the usual. A boy’s boy. And did I mention he’s eight?

“Sure, honey. Here you go.” I squirted a curl of gel into his palm and offered to help apply it. “But just on the front, ok?” Another shy grin.

Although I was surprised, I suspected I knew the reason behind this new found interest in his appearance.

He had a crush, big time.


He’d been talking a lot about a certain girl, the daughter of friends and the only other American in his class. Weeks earlier, he had been deeply disturbed (or so it seemed at the time) by other kids teasing that he and M. were “amoureux.”

Now, it appeared, things had changed. He was ready to declare the true nature of his feelings.

He pulled a folded paper from his pocket and opened it slowly. It bore a series of hearts — nestled one inside the other. Their two names were written in swirling script with a few flowers and more hearts. It was the cutest thing I’d ever seen.

“Moira and I are amoreux,” he said, without a hint of irony and only a touch of shyness. He didn’t just like her or have a crush (terms that would have felt familiar from my own pre-tween days.) This was “love,” pure and simple. He would present her with his handmade declaration that day and see if she felt the same…

As it turned out — and to my great relief — she did. In the weeks since, they have exchanged sweet notes and little tokens of affection that he keeps in a special box by his bed. Mostly, they laugh and chase each other around like the two innocent kids they are. My son has started asking about “what girls like?” (good breath, nice manners, show genuine interest in her) and how he should act if another boy tries to “steal her away.” (play it cool, girls respond to confidence…)

And so my boy is “in love.” And for this, I blame France. Because to be “in love” in France is to experience life at its very fullest. Amour (and its various material incarnations) is everywhere in Paris: In the boxes of chocolate sold on every block, the ubiquitous florists peddling romantic bouquets wrapped specially “pour offrir,” the public embraces in every imaginable spot, the “locks of love” that decorate its bridges.

Paris is synonymous with the idea of love. And that, of course, is why we love Paris.

And so it seems that eight-year-olds are not immune. My son has fallen under the city’s romantic spell. Sooner than I might have thought? Absolutely. But at any age, is there anything better?

The lovebirds.

The lovebirds.


4 thoughts on “My Son is “In Love” (I Blame Paris…)

  1. The only thing better than Paris is falling in love. Why not get an early start? Good for him! Loved this!

  2. aww young love… good for him… I was reading through your blog and realized you’re from Boston.. I live in Boston… I almost end up renting a place in Arlington… definitely should give some tip on learning French… I took a class but I felt like as I got “older” it’s hard to pick up another language…. Any good French cartoons or songs that your kids school taught them to teach French you can recommended? Thank you…

  3. Hello – this is adorable. Thank you for sharing.

    I am an American who moved to Paris today – less than 12 hours ago. I have been with my fiancé for 6 years – he is French and Swiss – and I have decided to finally commit to learning french before our April wedding. I am here until the end of the year. I just discovered your blog and I hope you can forgive me for being so forward, but i was wondering if you would be interested in meeting for a cup of coffee? I am completely lost and while it is not my first time abroad (we spent the past year in South Africa and the four years prior in London) I do not know Paris.

    I hope your son is still in love. 🙂


    • Hi Katherine!

      Thank you for your comment and please forgive my late reply. I so hope you’re finding your footing in Paris. I know how overwhelming it can be, especially when loved ones at home can only imagine “life in Paris” as a dreamy blur of croissants, red wine and “la vie en rose.” Have you heard about the Bloom Where You’re Planted program at the American Church? It’s an annual program for English-speaking newcomers being held in October. I did it years ago when we first moved here (also engaged but knowing no one myself…). The program really helped me get oriented and I also met a couple of fabulous friends. It’s worth checking out:

      I wish you all the best and hope you’ll stay in touch!


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