(An edited repost from June 2010.)
I was at the park with my boys. Just us, and two teenage girls over by the swings. Young teenagers - maybe still in middle school. Both beautiful, with long hair and big smiles. Both in teeny tiny tank tops and very short shorts.
Suddenly, one of the girls loudly exclaimed, "Eww! I like, totally, have thunder thighs. Look at how they smoosh out when I sit down!"
This girl's thighs were the size of my arms.
I grieved for her.
I resisted the urge to walk over and say, "Girls. These years are but a blip on the radar screen. You are just starting to get beautiful, and your thighs are only going to get bigger, I am sorry to say. Don't worry about them!"
The girls continued to laugh, play with their phones, and float expressions of, "Oh my God!" and "Ewww!" across the playground. I tried to ignore their silly conversation, and just when I'd almost forgotten they were there, another car pulled up. A boy, just about their age, got out. His mother waved goodbye, and pulled away. He walked toward Thunder Thighs, and gave her a hug. They sat on a swing together, held hands, and chatted with the other girl.
I'm sure they didn't notice me - just a Mom With Two Kids. But I noticed them. I thought about that boy. He seemed innocent enough. I wondered if this was one of his first unchaperoned "dates." I wondered if he knew just how shallow those girls sounded before he arrived, and if he was equally insecure. I thought about my own adolescent years, and shook my head. Don't you remember saying or doing things just because you thought you were supposed to say or do them - like, "I'm fat!" or goodness knows what else. Oh, what a difficult time.
I looked at my boys, and for the first time, I thought about them as teenagers. Really thought about it. What kind of character will they have? What am I doing to help them develop that character? I thought about the power that boys and girls have over each other's emotions at that age, and my role in shaping that. Will my boys be the type who only give attention to the girls who wear the tiniest shorts, flip their hair, and say "OMG?" (I'm not foolish enough to think they'll completely ignore those girls!) - or, will they also notice the ones who are a little more thoughtful? Will they be kind and considerate young men? The kind I trust to drop off with a girl, no matter who she is?
Will they feel comfortable talking to Hubby and I about "stuff," and will we have the courage to be straight with them? Will I be able to say certain words that will need to be said?
Oh. . . the worries of the future!
And what to do about it today?
First, I selfishly thanked God for giving me boys and I prayed for my friends who are raising girls. Not that I necessarily have it easier, but . . . there seem to be a lot of bombs thrown at girls in the body-image department; more so than boys. Maybe I won't have to explain to my child why Kim Kardashian is not a good role model, but I certainly don't want to contribute to a culture that idolizes her. I thought about how to avoid that, both as a woman, and a mother of boys.
Which lead to my second thought: reaffirming my intent to raise my boys in a Christian home. I vowed to provide a better example. To avoid excess, materialism, and the culture of celebrity-worship that can be so distracting.
Third, I thought about all the worldly influences on preschoolers' lives. When do they move from liking Dora in white tennis shoes and yellow socks to Miley Cyrus in a push up bra? When do they start thinking skirts need to be shorter and dialogue needs to be edgier? It is just when the hormones kick in, or do we push it on them earlier? I started to get a headache.
Soon, it was time for the young crowd to go. Bikes as transportation confirmed their pre-teen age. Before they rode away, Thunder Thigh's friend put a t-shirt on over her tiny tank top. I wondered if her mother knew about the outfit concealed beneath. I silently wished them, and their parents, good luck.
A few days later, when I started thinking about it all again, I turned to the Bible for help.
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them upon your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." Deuteronomy 6:5-7
"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." Proverbs 22:6
Impress upon your children
Talk with them
Thank you, God, for reminding me that my job, as Mom of Two Little Boys Who Will Grow Up, includes important character building, even now.
How do you build character in your little ones?
Playdates @ The Wellspring
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