Being the parent of a teenage daughter (and having already raised two others), I have sometimes come to view teenage boys as "the enemy." All of those raging hormones and coming of age business makes me want to keep my daughter as far away from them as humanly possible.
I have found this sentiment to be true for many parents of daughters and I am glad that I am not entirely alone.
Recently I went to a surprise birthday party for my dearest friend. There were numerous people of various ages there to celebrate her special day.
Very quickly my eyes were drawn to a young man 16 years of age whose name was Kyle. I noticed that he was dressed a little differently than most kids I know.
I looked at his red skinny jeans and wondered to myself "why?"
I began to talk to this young man and found out that he was a musician, which made sense, given his choice of attire.
After talking to him a bit more, I found out that he was a "Brony." What is a Brony you ask?
According to Wikipedia, a Brony is a male, aged 13-35 who is a fan of the show "My Little Pony."
That's right, the same "My Little Pony" television show my daughters watched when they were little girls.
As soon as he stated this, my alter ego, Miss Negative Nancy, quickly took over my thought process and whispered into my mind, "He is probably a pot head who enjoys watching this when he gets high."
Normally, I would have just shaken my head and looked the other way. But there was something about the way he carried himself and the articulate manner in which he spoke that made me want to take the time to get to know him just a little bit better.
I asked him why he and his friends liked "My Little Pony" so much. He replied with "Because it's awesome!"
I dug a little deeper to find out what made it so "awesome."
"It conveys a positive message. Although it is directed for little girls, it does show you how you should properly treat people," he said.
"The show demonstrates that there is a positive way to resolve things and since I am a sucker for happy endings, the resolution of the episodes puts me at ease," he added.
As you can imagine, I was pleasantly surprised with his unexpected response.
I then learned something else about this young man that impressed me so much, it prompted me to share this experience with others.
Kyle proudly stated that he was part of what is known as the straight-edge movement. This movement is a subculture of youth who have made the decision to live a drug, alcohol and tobacco-free lifestyle.
What a breath of fresh air it was to hear this!
I see too many young people in my community alone who are lost and caught up with drugs and alcohol, and I wish more of them had the boldness to turn away and choose to live a lifestyle such as Kyle's.
Suddenly, I felt foolish for initially judging him and assuming the worst.
Turns out Kyle is an awesome young man who, no doubt, has a great future ahead of him. He is intelligent, personable and seems to have a really good head on his shoulders.
I'm so glad I took the time not only to talk to him at the party, but to friend him on Facebook and talk with him some more later on.
I wonder how many wonderful people we miss out on because we make assumptions about who they are, based on how they look, their economic status, by what other people say about them or any other filter we use to gauge another person.
If I would have allowed Negative Nancy to have the final say, I would have missed out on getting to know a really great young man.
I am going to try really hard to make sure that never happens again.