Jenean Thomas, a mother from Cambridge, Ontario, supported her six-year-old daughter Peyton‘s desire to try out skateboarding. In an effort to get the little girl get started on it, she took her to a skate park. What happened next was heartwarming.
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Peyton had always been under the impression that skateboarding was something exclusive for boys. But after her mother explained to her that there was no such thing as “boy or girl things,” Peyton was ready to start practicing.
The mother and daughter headed over to a local skate park in Cambridge. There were some teenage boys already around. The boys weren’t just skating, they made the environment extra intimidating by smoking and swearing.
Jenean’s first thought was to go, and it turned out that Peyton wasn’t comfortable either.
“When we walked up to the skate park and saw that it was full of teenage boys smoking and swearing, she immediately wanted to turn around and go home,” she shared in the letter. “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.”
When Peyton started to skate, she was all wobbly and felt unsure of herself. In her third attempt in going down the ramp, one boy approached her and spent almost an hour to teach her a mini lesson on skateboarding. Jenean was initially cautious as the boy first went near her, even readying a motherly advice for the young man. Turned out, he was being rude at all. In fact, the lad helped Peyton throughout their stay in the skate park.
This prompted Jenean to write an open letter, which she posted on Facebook. It goes,
Dear teenage boy 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.
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.
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.