Last night we packed up and went to the pool for a family swim. Joseph is getting more and more comfortable in the water, and even was picking up the sinky toys from the bottom! Obviously he doesn’t put his face in yet, but he blows bubbles and it is adorable.
It was Joseph and I in the kiddie pool, and a group of 4 teenage boys, probably about 14 years old. I was on the other end, but I overheard parts of their conversation. They were ranking the girls at their school. “Oh Jennifer? Her body, I’d give her an 8.5.” “Nicole, ewwwww, nooooo! Her body is ok, but her face is definitely a 4.” It seemed their only category was body and face. It seriously bummed me out, to hear them evaluating the girls like that. As though they weren’t really people, simply objects to be scored and ranked. I was never teased or bullied in school, but I was never the “hot” girl either. That kind of attitude towards looks seriously wounded me growing up. Then it broke my heart, to know that Joseph will be exposed to that kind of stuff. Not only that, but that he would actually participate in conversations like that.
Joseph and I decided to go swim in the big pool. Josh had gone to the hot tub, and when he returned I told him how bummed out I was in what I heard them talking about, and how I wish I had the courage to tell them to stop. I told him I was afraid Joseph might grow up and be like that. Josh said, “No he won’t, because I am going to teach him how to be a man.” We returned to the kiddie pool, and the guys were still there, talking about the same thing. It was time for us to go anyways, but on the way out I saw Josh go over to the guys. Once we were in the change room, I asked him if he said anything to them. He said, “Yeah, I just told him that they shouldn’t be talking about that kind of stuff in public, and especially in front of women and children. I suggested they change the subject, or go somewhere else.”
I was so proud. He didn’t shame them, or lecture them. But a young attractive man told them they were being inappropriate. They didn’t argue, or smart-talk him. Josh showed them respect, and it seemed they returned it. Young men need to be shown how to be men, by men. If a young mum goes over and tells them off, they aren’t going to listen, and will probably laugh about it. But a guy, older and cooler than them? Yeah, that will work.
In those situations, its so easy to say, “Oh well, not my kids, not my problem.” But since moving away from the “village” mentality (it takes a village to raise a child), how far have we come as a society?
I don’t blame those kids for talking like that. It really does seem like that is all our society values – appearances. Maybe no one has taught them otherwise. Do those young guys know there their value lies? I pray they have someone in their lives to teach them their worth. I also hope those young girls that they were ranking know that they are so much more than someone’s “score”.
I shouldn’t worry about Joseph. We are going to do our best to teach him where true value and worth is. Also, he has the best role model to look up to when its time for him to learn how to be a man ❤