(I'm finally posting the second part of this story...)
"So, Oscar," I asked at dinner that night, "how did you know you had a crush? Do you feel different when you're around Alyssa?"
I was curious if Oscar felt some deep level of connection based on shared interests, or whether it was purely physical attraction -- did his heart start beating faster or did his face turn hot? Would he even be able to articulate any of this?
Oscar skirted the questions, embarrassed. But I persisted while Abe and Ruby exchanged giggly glances.
"But Oscar, how did you know?"
He looked up shyly, and kept his voice low, hoping his siblings wouldn't hear him.
"Mom," he whispered, "Mom, she told me."
Ruby and Abe cracked up then, and I too tried to suppress my urge to laugh. Oscar got all embarrassed and yelled "STOP!" which only made Ruby and Abe laugh harder. I knew he was smitten with Alyssa - he just misunderstood the subtleties of the word "crush".
But listening to the two of them chatter on for a half an hour last night, a good nine months and several breakups and make-ups later, I was struck with how great Alyssa has been for him. They really do have a sweet connection and lots of shared interests. And he can now sustain phone conversations with far fewer awkward silences -- he says "yes" and "uh huh" instead of just nodding into the phone, and he's getting better at asking Alyssa questions.
Paul and I used to pass him post-its with prompts like "ask what she did this weekend" or "what kind of music does she like?" but he's even needing those less. Last night I watched him settle comfortably into our squishy brown chair and chatter on about his dog walking business and then they giggled while Alyssa told him about the moth she was chasing around her house. The line got silent when Alyssa went to feed her fish, but Oscar waited and the chatter started up again.
I know he's thrilled he has a girlfriend, but I'm just plain happy he has such a close friend.