London And The Old Man

 After being a female for 35 years, you'd think I'd understand what all it entails, but it hasn't been until recently that I've finally begun to see the pros and the cons of my sex. My eyes are slowly opening to the differences in the ways male and females are socialized. I won't speak about what it's like as a male, but I will speak to the realization that females are socialized to be pleasing, helpers, peacekeepers and peacemakers...

And I, somehow, was built with a personality that automatically made me a failure of all those attributes. I am not altogether pleasing, though I have a desire for people TO BE pleased with me (just the way I am, good and bad). I am a wonderful helper, but don't always WANT to be a helper. I am miserable at peacekeeping because I have thoughts and opinions that might be problematic to other people; and I have too hot of a temper to be very good at peacemaking (unless you fall into line and do it my way, cause I'll jerk a knot in your tail).

Basically, I am really bad at being a woman that's pleasing, helping, peaceful and kind. I've always thought it was because I am too masculine and wanted to grow up to be Maverick from Top Gun. I wanted to be the hero and the champion that saved the world. But I wanted to do all of those things while having awesome hair and wearing a pencil skirt (I have never owned a pencil skirt, by the way).

Anyway, I am telling you these things to share with you an eye-opening moment I had in public with my newly minted four year-old daughter who also possesses a bullheaded personality that prevents her from being pleasing, helpful, peaceful and kind (comes by it honestly). We were standing in line at the store and an old gentlemen behind us smiled at her and said, "Good afternoon, young lady." London turned around and scowled up at him, but she added a growl for good measure. Me...slightly embarrassed, smiled back at the man on behalf of both of us. He just chuckled softly and said, "You look like you're about four years old." She turned on her heels so she was facing the man full on. She knitted her brows together and glowered up at him through her lashes. I blushed and patted her head, whispering that she was perfectly fine.

"Yesterday was her birthday," I said with extra kindness. The old man smiled. "She's not very nice, sometimes," I hear myself saying with a note of sympathy for the old man.

He looked right up at me and his face grew sober. "Oh, that's okay. Unfortunately, we live in a world where it is no longer safe for a young lady to be kind to a man."


I could have fallen right over in surprise.


Not only was I personally reverting back to the societal norms of how a female should be in public, but I was automatically leading London, and expecting her to comply, to those norms. And this angel of a man shot me down in a graceful and powerful way. He instantly and compassionately reminded me that my daughter doesn't HAVE to be smiling and speaking and responding to a man, any man, in a way she doesn't feel safe doing. He kindly reminded me that it's perfectly okay to scowl and not speak if she doesn't want to.

Yeah, there's still a big part of me that wants London to be kind (and she IS kind!) but more importantly, I want her to know without hesitation that her boundaries matter more that societal norms for women.

Thank God for men like that stranger.

He is making the world great AND safe.