This year’s ninth annual “Girls Are Talking” Conference for teen girls, ages 11-18, was a delight for a young mother’s heart and a big sister’s soul. Sponsored by Friends Association for Children and Camp Diva, a Church Hill based mentorship group, “Girls Are Talking” is designed to allow young women to dialogue about their lives, present and future, images of themselves and about life choices. The very awesome young ladies who sat down to talk candidly allowed this very 30-something scribe in on their conversation about boys and dating. It was an exciting and a nostalgic moment for a former single lady now deeply entrenched in wifedom and mommyhood.
And from that inside track, a few amazing discoveries came to light. First, I got renewed hope in the notion of young women getting to be, well, young women. In these days of hypersexuality in everything from gum commercials to cartoons, and the all glorified megacreative, tricked out ways to do the do without a care for courtship, we more mature lovebunnies of the late 90s and early 2000s have begun to lose hope for younger women and their prospects for dating, for being asked for their numbers and most of all for scoring “boos”. With all the talk of young people dabbling into same sex relationships, and operating in the love realm on a “hit it and quit it” mantra, from both sides of the couple, the idea of teens kickin’ it for longer than a week or two seemed foreign. The conversation in the room just proved that you can’t always go by one side of a debate.
Another amazing discovery was that our children, despite all the “grown” of the world that is being thrown at them, are still – wait for it – children. All the talk about the post-millennial generation coming up today paints a picture of an aloof beautiful mind, a bohemian of sorts that sees no color, has no appreciation for the differences between adults and children which call for proper manner and tone and could run coding circles around their adult predecessors to create websites and social networks that can make or break products and or careers. Yet, the scene in the communal halls of Trinity Baptist Church gave human face to the proposed demographic depiction and reinforced a historic adage—no matter the cultural or technological advances, new pop culture phenoms, or how much “grown” is projected upon the young, children are and still will be children.
Amid ten workshops that bordered on informational to group therapy, the “Healthy Relationships: Basic Steps to Finding a Good Mate & More” session hosted a sizeable crowd of 26 girls, ages 13 to 18, fresh faced and innocent, despite their donning fitting jeans here, and other slick trappings of 13 going on 30 stylings.
As they sat and waited to get into the meat of what men want, all that is wrong with hookups and back to back texts from boys demanding to know what they are doing and who they are talking to every 10 seconds, they practiced cheers, played with each other’s hair, adjusted feathered earrings or straightened each other’s hair accessories. They sat like babes in waiting.
Now get this: the presenter and moderator for the event was a 30-something as well, a young brother by the name of Lamar Bowers. A former college football player, current husband and father, and black marriage devotee, is all too familiar with locker room chatter and the lengths to which young women will go to gain popularity or that certain boy’s affections. Bowers is determined to rebuild our young women’s esteem and sense of self. His mission is to have young black women unleash their princesses extraordinaire.
I think it worked that day. For all of the scenarios these butterfly attendees put out there about staying true and committed with young men who make two and three babies with other girls, or about their boyfriends referring to every other girl around them but the girlfriend themselves as the b-word, or about boys who creep with them secretly outside the purview of their parents, Bowers and the women organizers of the event were able to counter with why such behavior does not amount to real, meaningful relationships of any type and instead defined how a real man in the making would properly handle such situations. He would not be making babies. He would not use the b word to refer to any female. He would be anxious to meet your parents if he is really into you, and thus worth your time.
Worth. Self-love. Patience. Openness. These all were buzz words for the day. A man, a black man, spoke them to our girls. And the girls listened. Intently. And they heard him.
The day was amazing. And because of it, tomorrow promises to be even better for our future mothers and female leaders.
YB Thompson is a local freelance writer and aspiring supermom. Follow her on twitter@ybtwrites.