This past week I’ve been thinking a lot about raising a man and what it takes for a boy to become a strong leader, one with strength, respect, and chivalry. I feel like these are dying characteristics, lost personality traits—forgotten aspects in our men today. Because of certain scenarios I have found myself in over the past seven days, I’m realizing that I want my child—my beautiful Tiny Tot—to be the man who will rise above social standards that are, unfortunately, beginning to be accepted as “normal.”
Sunday afternoon, as I drove in horrid Houston stop-and-go traffic, singing along to Rascal Flatts in the most tone-deaf manner possible, I suddenly screamed out, “What the hell? That car just hit me!”
Yes, I use profanity on occasion. I should probably work on that, seeing as I’m writing about wanted personality traits … . Hmmm.
Luckily I had the foresight, or the wherewithal, to slam on my brakes and avoid hitting the car in front of me. Pulling over to the nonexistent side of the road (it’s Houston, we have lanes and jersey walls … we’re special), I waited to see what the car behind me would do. Would he pull over? Drive ahead as if nothing happened? Actually accept the fact that he had slammed into my beautiful, new, Prius?
Segue—don’t judge. Everyone should own a Prius. It’s like driving the Batmobile. Everything is futuristic, and oh-so-awesome. I think they’re praised for like saving the world or something; I have no clue. It streams my Pandora, the gear-shift is built in beside the radio, and the car drives with the engine off. Off! Like a spacecraft!
Anyway, back to the topic at hand. The driver did follow me over. He got out, a strapping 20 something boy, and walked to my passenger window. I rolled down the window, looked at him, and said, “You hit my car.”
Yes, I’m very direct.
He gave me what he thought was a heartthrob smile before he said, “I’m so sorry, Ma’am. The car behind me slammed into me and pushed me into you. They drove off. But, look, I don’t have my wallet with me. I don’t want to get in trouble, or get a ticket. Can we not get the police involved? I can give you my phone number, you can call me for insurance later. You look like you’re okay, your bumper doesn’t seem to have much damage. It should be an easy fix. I’m going to go, okay?”
Here’s a young man, who just rear-ended a woman, and he wants to know if he can leave her stranded on the side of the road. Why is he leaving her stranded? So that he doesn’t get “in trouble.”
Because, leaving the scene of an accident is acceptable.
I ended up in the ER with a concussion and injuries to the spine. My father and the guy I was dating both immediately jumped into their cars and drove to meet me. They arrived as I was speaking with the police officer. My father, as always, assessed the situation and took over. He spoke to the policeman, insisted on taking me to the emergency room (because I was insistent that while my head hurt, I should be fine), brought me pain meds with water, and told me to sit down every time I tried to get up. The guy I was dating seemed more interested in groping me. In between fondlings, I sent him on a mission to find a restroom. I’ll give him that; he searched for a good five minutes to find an open store on a Sunday.
But, after a while it was apparent that he all he wanted was to be touchy-feely. Like High Schoolers sitting in a dark movie theatre touchy-feely. Except, it was broad daylight.
I sent him on his way, fast. There I was, hurting, addle-brained from being rear-ended, trying to answer a myriad of questions from both dad and cop, and the guy I’m seeing kept wrapping me into thousands of hugs while trying to shove his tongue down my throat.
In front of a cop.
… In front of my dad.
I was fuming on the drive to the ER, trying to focus on driving with my brain in the clouds, about these two men. The one who hit me and drove off. The one who had no boundaries, or a sense of propriety, in a crisis situation.
How did these types of men come to be?
Unfortunately, I know how these men came to be—we women created them. Not the mothers, necessarily, but women in general. Every woman who allows for a man to remain a boy, without asking for him to grow up. Every woman who makes excuses for a man’s bad behavior in public. Every woman who knows that the treatment she’s allowed should not be “normal,” accepted, or warranted. Over time, we have allowed our standards to lower. We began settling for substandard treatment while wishing for the knight in shining armor who never came.
In fact, we stopped looking for that knight altogether.
Chivalry began to be an anomaly, a rarity, a dead love language.
The modernization of texting, social media, eSites, chatting, and our mobile devices have taken us away from the face-to-face interactions needed to foster decency and respect toward all human beings. It is therefore that much harder for women to put their foot down and say, “I need to be treated with respect; I am a woman, and my demands are real and necessary for meaningful interaction.”
I know what I need to do, though. I need to teach my son what it means to treat everyone with respect, equally. I need to set expectations for myself in the men who interact with my son. For how can I demand that my child be respectful toward everyone—especially women—if I do not find strong men who will lead him by example? My tiny human needs role models who will foster a desire to be the best man he can grow to be—and nothing less than that.
Thankfully, so far my tiny human has my father and his uncle to help pave the way. They are his wonderful, shining examples.
So, I have to ask myself: what, exactly, does it take to grow a son into a well-adjusted, polite, happy, chivalrous adult male?