Strawberry picking, 2008.

I went to the mall yesterday with my two kids. My giant 16 year-old son and his sister, my petite 14 year-old daughter.

We had just walked through the doors, and were on our way to one of those smelly teen emporiums to return a shirt, when I noticed these two men staring at us. Me and my daughter.

And it kind of disgusted me.

A few minutes later, this guy walked by and openly leered at my kid. Gross. After we passed him, I turned around and he was still staring. Until he saw me staring back.

Here’s the frustrating thing: she was wearing what she wears to high school. A collared shirt, jeans and a pair of flip flops. Very modest. There’s a dress code so she doesn’t have a choice.

She was oblivious to the attention. And that makes me worry because the unwanted attention is going to continue.

And it’s not because of the way she dresses. Yes, I’ve relaxed my 3 inch shorts inseam rule to 2 inches. But she doesn’t leave the house with her midriff showing. And she doesn’t leave the house with her butt hanging out of her shorts. And she most definitely does not leave the house in those camisoles that should only be worn as undergarments.

(She’s fine with our house rules. She tried to push the limits when she was younger but now she agrees with the rules, even likes them, and understands the benefits of having some modesty.)

The unwanted attention comes from a part of our society that thinks it’s okay to stare at women. And to ogle teenaged girls. It has to do with the messages that people get from all of the media that we are bombarded with. (That’s a whole other post.)

And I don’t see that changing.

So I have to do a better job of teaching her how to handle herself in this world. Making her more street smart.

I’m not overprotective. And I don’t want to be a freak about this. And I most definitely don’t want to freak her out.

But it’s important that she is aware of what’s going on around her. As she finds herself more and more on her own. Growing up, becoming more independent.

In the meantime, I have a message to those guys from the mall. If I see you staring at my kid again, I’m going to beat the shit out of you. Metaphorically speaking, of course.


Bottom image courtesy of Bernard Silverstein (The kids’ adoring grandfather.)