A mother recently learned not to make assumptions based on stereotypes after she took her young daughter to a local skate park.
Earlier this month, Jeanean Thomas shared a story on social media about the day she took her young daughter to Churchill Park in Cambridge, Ontario. Her daughter had desperately wanted to learn how to skateboard, so Thomas decided it was time to let her daughter give it a go.
Posted by Jeanean Thomas on Wednesday, February 5, 2014
However, when the pair got to the skate park, Thomas was discouraged to find that it was flooded with teenage boys. Many of the boys were smoking and swearing and didn't seem all too friendly.
Nevertheless, Thomas encouraged her daughter to keep her chin up and do her thing, insisting that the boys didn't own the park.
Posted by Jeanean Thomas on Tuesday, September 8, 2015
Thomas later wrote about the experience in a letter titled "Dear teenage boy at the skate park."
She began the letter by describing her first impression of the boys, particularly one boy to whom the letter is addressed, at the skate park:
"You're probably about 15 years old, so I don't expect you to be very mature or for you to want a little girl on your skate ramp for that matter.
What you don't know is that my daughter has been wanting to skateboard for months. I actually had to convince her that skateboarding wasn't for just for boys.
So when we walked up to the skate park and saw that it was full of teenaged boys who were smoking and swearing, she immediately wanted to turn around and go home.
I secretly wanted to go too because I didn't want to have to put on my mom voice and exchange words with you.
I also didn't want my daughter to feel like she had to be scared of anyone, or that she wasn't entitled to that skate park just as much as you were.
So when she said, 'Mom it's full of older boys,' I calmly said, 'So what, they don't own the skate park.'
She proceeded to go down the ramp in spite of you and your friends flying past her and grinding rails beside her."
While Thomas fully expected the young boys to be rude and unwelcoming to her daughter, the letter goes on to explain how the actions of one skater at the park made her think twice about the stereotypes she had initially associated him with. The letter reads:
"She only had two or three runs in before you approached her and said 'Hey, excuse me ...'
I immediately prepared to deliver my 'She's allowed to use this park just as much as you guys' speech when I heard you say, 'Your feet are wrong. Can I help you?'
You proceeded to spend almost an hour with my daughter showing her how to balance and steer, and she listened to you – a feat not attained by most adults.
You held her hand and helped her get up when she fell down and I even heard you tell her to stay away from the rails so that she wouldn't get hurt."
The letter ends with Thomas thanking the teenager at the skate park for instilling a sense of confidence and achievement in her young, impressionable daughter.
He proved that people aren't always as they appear and that we don't need to adhere to the stereotypes of a particular culture or group in order to do what we love. The letter concludes:
"I want you to know that I am proud that you are part of my community, and I want to thank you for being kind to my daughter, even though your friends made fun of you for it.
She left the skate park with a sense of pride and with the confidence that she can do anything, because of you."
This story just goes to show that a little kindness can go a very long way. Thanks for being a great guy, "teenage boy at the skate park!"
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