Love in many languages

The declaration came one day a few weeks ago. He said that he’d been carrying it around with him ALL of last year. It felt like a big weight but he couldn’t really tell anyone. At 7 years old, this was a very big statement indeed.

All the normal things flashed through my mind, was there a frog or a worm family in a jacket pocket that we had forgotten to check before washing for a whole year. Was there another bike saddle at the bottom of his rucksack that he found on a school trip one day, I always knew there were too many pockets in that rucksack.

 After the appropriate pause that seemed right following a big statement like this, he finally spat out “I’m in love”. And she whom he loves is a classmate. Apparently, it all came out over a game of Ludo one afternoon. I have full respect for the brave girl, she came out with it first ‘jeg elsker deg’, meaning I love you. He blushed and spat the declaration right back at her. Then they both blushed and the Ludo continued.

The initial declaration was of course in Norwegian. But they soon realised that if they needed to keep up communication on the subject – and everyone knows that the secret to a good relationship is communication – they needed to be very careful as there were 20 other 7 year olds always milling around. They weren’t quite ready to tell the world and for now, you know, young love needed time to flourish.

 So before going to school the following morning, he asked me to check Google Translate for how to say ‘I love you’ in Polish. She speaks Polish and he wanted to impress her. He also wanted to be able to declare his love freely without the others hearing or understanding. Off he went to school that day muttering ‘kocham Cię’ under his breadth so he would commit it to memory until later when he found the right romantic moment.  

 That worked a charm apparently. She was very impressed with this and reciprocated with abandon. All was well and communication flow was good.

 That was until another Polish speaking kid in the class overheard them one day and looked at both of them, stunned, before giggling with the apparent hilarity of it all. This little boy then did what he thought needed to be done and shared the good news with all and sundry. 

 A new love communication strategy was needed and fast.

 English was out of the question. The teacher and all of the other grown-ups understand English so he wasn’t comfortable at all with that.  He could easily teach her how to say the German ‘Ich liebe dich’ but the teacher understands German so that had a very high risk factor.

 What were they to do, was there no way to overcome this, must they go back to the days of keeping it to themselves and carrying the burden in the heart? His heart was heavy in those days, he said, so that wasn’t ideal either.   

 Then his Dad had the great idea to teach him Russian. In East Germany, Russian was mandatory in school and the Dad was able to recall how to say ‘I love you’ in Russian with suspicious ease. I had a funny feeling that the Dad knew exactly what the boy was going through. The loved-up apple wasn’t falling far from the romantic tree perhaps.

 Anyway, off the boy went with his Russian declaration (which incidentally Google says is ‘я люблю тебя), delighted with himself.  But he struggled with remembering it, and then she struggled with remembering what he remembered badly and couldn’t reciprocate.

 A game changer, that was. With no safe means of declaring love, they are now taking a little break, a cooling-off period of sorts where Ludo goes back to being just Ludo.  But just in case, I’m refreshing my love declarations in Irish, French, Italian and Spanish in case it’s needed one of these days.  You just never know these days when a burden will urgently need to be lifted. 

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