I’m joking, right? Not exactly…
I thought it would be boys chasing my daughter that would cause me to go gray. So far that hasn’t been the case. Luckily, my teenage daughter has not been bothered by overly aggressive boys hounding her. Pretty sure most boys are still afraid of their own shadow in middle school so I’m guessing that high school is when that fun will begin? Alas, when it comes to my boy children, they have had quite a different experience.
**Sidenote: My youngest son Connor is only 7 and has experienced many of the same things as my older son Baylor had by 2nd grade. Since I have seen it play out a bit more with Baylor, I will primarily focus on his experience.**
Early Elementary Grades
It started young. In our old house, we had to drive by the elementary school our kids attended in order to get out of the neighborhood. So to catch a glimpse of our kids during the day, my husband and I would occasionally time it so we would leave the house while our kids were outside at recess. We would stop near the playground and just watch for a few minutes. Without fail, almost every time we drove by, we would see our then 5-year-old son running. Just run, run, running. He was easy to spot because chasing behind him was a pack of girls yelling his name, “Baaaylorrrr.” Innocent enough, right? Perhaps. This was Kindergarten.
By first grade, things were amping up just a bit. Getting more familiar with writing, girls now took their admiration and spelled it out on paper. Love notes came home a few days a week. Nothing too crazy, usually something along the lines of, “I like you.” Also, there were unsolicited hugs. And there was even one girl who declared Baylor to be her husband … I’m pretty sure that’s not how it works? But at this age things were still mild.
The second and third grades were relatively uneventful. Baylor was in a GATE class those years for gifted and academically talented students. He’s not gifted, I mean, my husband has contributed some DNA ya know? Ha! But Baylor is a smart kid and that was the class he was in. And perhaps because of the kids he was surrounded by, those two years he was mostly left alone.
Later Elementary Grades
The fourth grade was a different story. He was the new kid in school and got allll of the extra attention that comes with “new kid” status. This is when things really started to escalate. My kids ride a school bus to and from school and the kids are allowed to use their phones on the bus. So what starts to happen? Girls taking pictures of him. Even secretly recording him. Sometimes even posting the videos on their social media accounts.
Here is where you might suggest that I contact the parents of these girls. I’m not being trite when I tell you I would be making phone calls all the livelong day. I cannot possibly keep track of ALL. THE. GIRLS. And I really shouldn’t have to! It’s not just the girls on the bus. It’s the girls in his class giving him phone numbers. It’s the girls in the hallway sing-songing his name. Its the girls at the fields in our neighborhood. Last year my husband watched as a 9-year-old girl noticed that Baylor was at our neighborhood fields. She grabbed her girlfriend’s arm and shrieked, “Holy f***! Baylor Riley is here!” And then proceeded to go all fangirl on him. 9. Years. Old.
Last week there was an event at my kids’ school where the Dads brought the kids to school. Apparently, there was a very large crowd assembled outside the school. A school bus rolls up and a girl’s head pops out the window and screams loud enough for all to hear, “Baylor! Kenzie likes you!” He was mortified. Baylor doesn’t like the attention. Not yet anyway. At this age, it embarrasses him and makes him mad and uncomfortable. He’s in 5th grade now and so far things seem pretty similar to last year, attention-wise. I understand that what the girls have done so far is not really sexually predatory behavior. Yet. I have a feeling that come middle and high school all bets are off.
This trend of aggressive young girls is a societal issue that men and women probably see differently. I obviously think what we’ve experienced with the Baylor-chasers is a big deal. It upsets me to know that my son is truly bothered by it. As you might imagine, my husband sees this differently. Having had an actual fan club (no joke) in high school he sees this as a rite of passage. But my husband didn’t experience this fandom at such a young age and he thinks I’m overreacting. If you feel the same way, please go back and reread this post. Only this time swap out Baylor for your 10-year-old daughter and have boys hugging her and secretly taking her picture and posting videos of her online. Do you still feel the same way?