Wednesday, February 22

Boys Will Be Boys

What's up with all the superhero role playing in the long underwear and cape that little boys do? The flying leaps from the coffee table or back of the couch? It's cute, sometimes a little annoying, and possibly dangerous, depending on what superhero he is, what superfeat he's attempting, and how many other superheroes there are in the room.

They're having fun, for sure, but it's also very important work. Purposeful work. And when that little boy turns 12 or 13, give or take a few years, you'll see the former caped superhero begin to unfold into a real hero.

It might start with a bit of a bad attitude. He thinks he knows better than his parents do. He thinks he's invincible. He doesn't like taking instruction. This can be a very difficult stage, because he doesn't know better than his parents, he's not invincible, and goodness knows, he needs instruction more than he ever did. This stage of hero development is not so much fun, but parents who hang in there may see that this, too, has a purpose.

Youngest daughter is twenty-one and works at a gym. A week or so ago she came home and told us about her day. A young man, a customer at the gym who is the same age as youngest son and still in high school, had been hassling her to "hang out" with him.

"We should hang out sometime," he said. He was nothing, if not persistent, even though she thought she was obvious in her refusal.

Oldest son's response? "What's his name? I should have a talk with him." Youngest son? "I'll beat him up!"

As it turns out, her boss had overheard the exchange and he had a talk with the young man, so things were resolved without any action from her brothers.

Yes, youngest son needs to learn a better approach to fixing these sorts of problems--a better phase one, anyway! And I expect that to come with time. A year ago, however, it would never have crossed his mind that this situation might require something of him.

He's one step closer to becoming a hero, and that, really, is what the briefs pulled up over the long johns when he was five were all about. Boys will be boys, and that's a good thing, because it's working to turn them into men.

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