Braden has a girlfriend…only she doesn’t know it.  Well, that might not be completely true; I think she knows it but she’s really good at pretending she doesn’t.  Actually, I think he’s going to be a ladies man because he has a couple of little girlfriends.  But his first real crush was on (and still is) little Alivia next door.  And who could blame him?  At about 18 months older than Braden, she’s a “woman of the world” in his eyes.  Blonde hair, blue eyes, perfect little smile and well-beyond her years in taking control of the situation and letting the young men in her life know who’s in charge.

Recently Braden informed me that he’s going to marry Alivia when he grows up.  He had it all figured out.  They were going to live with us, or with Alivia’s parents, or maybe at the hotel that his grandparents  stay in when they visit during the summer.  His reason for this?  They want to save all their money and not spend it.

“Buying a house costs money and is really ‘spensive.’  We want to save all of our money,” he explained.

“Does Brian know this about you wanting to marry Alivia?” I asked him, inquiring about Alivia’s father.

“Ummm…noooooo,” he responded.

“Don’t you think you should ask him first?  I mean, you do need her daddy’s permission before you marry his daughter,  don’tcha think?”

Braden pondered this a moment and then asked, “Could you ask him?  I don’t want him to get mad at me.”

And so set the theme for neighborly relations.  Braden lives and breathes Alivia most days.  Thank goodness we have a home alarm for our house!  At about 5:00 a.m. one morning, we were awakened to the screaming pitch of our home alarm as someone had breached a door.  We stumbled down the steps half-awake to find a sheepish looking Braden staring back at us.

“Did you open the door to the garage?” Troy asked.

“Ummm…yeah.  I’m sorry!  I didn’t know the alarm was set!”  he cried.

“That’s fine, but what were you doing?  Why did you need to go outside so early in the morning?  It’s still dark!”

From behind his back, Braden revealed the love letter he had written to Alivia.  It seems he had written it sometime in the night and it was imperative to him that he deliver it as soon as possible.

“I have a letter for ‘Livia,” he said.

You have no idea how difficult it was for us to contain our grins so as not to embarrass him.  “That’s fine, ” I said, “but I think her mommy and daddy would be very unhappy to be awakened at five in the morning on a Saturday for Alivia to receive your note.  Let’s wait a few hours and you can deliver it then, okay?”

He wasn’t happy, but what could he do?  He’d been caught!  Blast that danged home alarm!  Why did Mom and Dad have to put it on all of the doors??

Not long ago, the grandparents were visiting from Oklahoma.  While here, my mother-in-law noticed that Braden really enjoyed wearing his father’s cologne and deodorant.  Since he was so careful in the use of his father’s items, my mother-in-law thought it would be fun to get Braden his own deodorant and cologne.  Riiiiggggghhht!  That’s exactly what our little Don Juan needed!

My first clue that this might be a problem came one evening after I’d put him to bed.  I was in my bedroom – down the hall from Braden’s – with my door closed.  Quite inexplicably to me at the moment, I kept catching a strong whiff of heavy mens cologne.  I opened my door to follow the smell and the entire hallway smelled like an Abercombie store!  Only, if you can imagine, worse!

“Braden?” I called.  “What are you doing?  It smells like you’ve bathed in that cologne!”

Braden came running out of his bedroom and, incredibly, the smell intensified.  By the time he was standing in front of me, I had an urgent need to take about four steps back away from him.  The smell was so intense!  How could something that smells so great with only one squirt smell so noxious with a dozen?

“I’m practicing,” Braden replied.

“Practicing what?”

“How to put my cologne on for ‘Livia.  I’m gonna put my cologne on tomorrow morning and go over to see ‘Livia.  I’m gonna get right up close to her and say ‘Smell me, ‘Livia!‘  Do you think she’ll like it?”

Do think she’ll like it??  I’m still not quite sure how to answer that question.  If this doesn’t scare off the neighbors, then I think it’s safe to assume that nothing else will.