Hoge's Heroes Vol. 1: Skateboard Teen Turns out Not to Be so Intimidating After All, Changes Young Girl's Life

(AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

The first in an occasional series.

This story is not new; in fact, it’s several years old—but a Twitter user named Sean Malarkey, “full-time husband, father & friend,” shared it recently and brought it to those who hadn’t seen it before. To me, the lesson to be learned here is, don’t judge a book by its cover.

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Sure, there are plenty of terrible people out there, but there are also countless good ones—and you never know where you’ll find them.

It might even be a seemingly ominous toxic male who presumably wants to bully your young daughter. But this mother was surprised when her expectations were completely overturned, and the male she thought was threatening turned out to be a sweetheart:

The original poster of the story, Jeanean, was initially apprehensive about taking her daughter to the skate site:

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.

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I have passed skate parks in my travels and can understand why the mom found it intimidating. They’re usually filled with too-cool-for-school dudes doing rad tricks, and the scene can give off the vibe, “If you can’t hang, don’t come in.”

Surfer dudes, for instance, despite their laid-back reputation, can be really hard on newbies who try to take their waves. But this mom was undeterred:

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..”

A quick aside: good for this mother to be ready to stand up for her kid. Being prepared to face off against a group of teenage boys takes guts. But it turns out there was no need:

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.

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As a father of three girls (and one boy), this story warmed my heart. Despite today’s common narrative, most males are not toxic and misogynist, and we love our mothers, sisters, and daughters—and, in this case, even a total stranger.

No, I didn’t reach for a tissue; how dare you suggest that. My wife might have though:

Although the young girl eventually found other pursuits besides skateboarding, she hasn’t forgotten the lessons she learned:

Thanks to Sean Malarkey for tweeting this story again and bringing its powerful message back. I missed it the first time, but it’s given me a smile despite the time that has passed. I hope and suspect the young boy has grown into a terrific young man who will one day be a great father.

This is the first in a series about everyday heroes that don’t necessarily make the front pages. I’m counting on readers to send me stories of people they know or who they’ve read about who have done heroic acts—large or small, physical or otherwise—that have made someone’s life better or saved them from danger. Please email me with any tips at [email protected]. Thanks!

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