Jack is seven years old when he figures out what love is.
Or, more specifically, what it is to be in love.
Jack, growing up the way he did, has always known what love is. He saw it as a young boy, when his parents got married. He saw it when Maddie beat up the boy that had been pulling on Lily’s braids. He felt it when he first met Alex. And it first smacked him right in the face when he fell in love with one Mimi Hummel-Anderson. Somehow, Jack had known since the first time he even saw her that she was the girl, she was the one his Mama always cries over in the movies she watches on Valentine’s Day with his dad.
Jack knows it’s love, what he feels for Mimi. Even though Lily rolled her eyes far too dramatically when he told her this. She told him he was way too young to know what love was. But that didn’t stop him from believing it. He had seen and heard enough in his seven years to know he was in love with her.
Jack’s Mama and Dad were in love, and he knew that she stuck by his side even when he was really sick when he was younger. Jack wanted to play with Mimi all the time, even though Matt had informed them cautiously last week that girls were diseased with something called cooties. It didn’t sound good, but Jack didn’t care all that much.
He just knew that there was something, much more than when you just liked someone, that he felt for Mimi. How every time she smiled at him, it felt like his heart had jumped in his throat. And every time she ran off with Maria instead of stayed with him and Alex, there was a little part of him that was way sadder than necessary. And how he wanted to laugh at everything she did, but she was just so cute he couldn’t stand it.
Jack decides, on one random day, that he wants to do something about these feelings he has for her. So, he asks his Mama. Who gave him an answer she’d never thought he’d take seriously.
"If you love someone, tell them. And then get married."
Jack completely ignored how she said that with her snorting laugh, and just nodded before running up to his room.
The next day, when all the kids ran out to recess, Jack quickly found Mimi and told her he wanted to talk to her. So he pulled her aside to the slides where they had their race after they first met, awkwardly shoving his hands deep into his pockets as he talked.
"So, I’ve been thinking a little, and I realized that I like you. A lot. Well, I think I love you. But no one else thinks so, because I’m just a kid. But that doesn’t matter to me, ‘cause I know what love is.. And I was wondering, if you would marry me. I mean, not today ‘cause that’d be dumb." Jack laughed nervously, scratching his head. "Sorry. I’m not good with words. Like, at all. But, seriously. Would you marry me, Meems? I even have a ring." He shoved his hand back in his pocket and pulled out a grape Ring Pop he had snagged that morning. "Grape. That’s your favorite, right? Because it’s purple."
Mimi just let a huge grin creep across her face and nodded enthusiastically, taking the Ring Pop from him. “Yes.” Standing up on her tiptoes, she kissed him quickly on the cheek before skipping off to Maria.
Jack didn’t say words like that to her for another ten years. But it didn’t matter. Because for two split seconds when she said yes, she was his.