Being a little boy is hard in a great big world. We yell at them the way we don’t yell at little girls, and we shouldn’t yell at them either. We expect them to know the things that we didn’t learn until we were much older, but nevermind that, boys are supposed to inherently know what we want from them, even if we don’t know what we want for ourselves. And what do we want from them? We want them to be big, and brave, and capable. We look at pictures of them and talk about how we wish they could stay little forever, but then scold them for making the littlest mistake on the field or in the classroom. We want them to be the professional athlete we never were, or the doctor, or the hero, but should we blame them for our own shortcomings?
Being a little boy is difficult, yet they tend to learn to make it through, because they don’t know any better, or sadly, they don’t know any other way of life. They are asked to be the man of the house because the man that once occupied the house is now gone, taking with him not only the bond of love, but putting the boy into bondage as the new man, a role that he may not quite be ready for. But we must toughen him up right? We must make the boy responsible for the sins of the father, and in doing so, adding the weight of the world, and fitting him with the armor he will learn to carry the rest of his days. The armor that he must use to fight all the demons and devils we thrust him into battle with, battles of our choosing, not his, all the while not realizing that armor is a two way barrier, that prevents things from getting through from the outside, and not allowing things from getting out, from the inside.
Being a little boy should be fun, if only we were allowed to have fun, but sometimes we aren’t. Sometimes we are hell bent on giving the boy the life we never had, or really, making the boy live the life we never got. From baseball to boardrooms, we want them to be the best they can be, we tell them they can be anything they want to be, but only if we approve, and if it is part of “our” plan for them. We want success for the little boy, and he will eagerly do what we want them to, because the thing they seek the most from us is approval, even if that approval means not doing the thing they love. Oh, and heaven forbid, if the thing the little boy loves when he grows up is another boy.
Being a little boy is wonderful, you can see the happiness in the way they move through life, the way they climb a tree, if they are allowed to. We want them to be brave, but we don’t want them to do brave things. We need them to be careful, and kind, all the time, except for when we need them to be brave and fight the monsters at night. But how are they allowed to fight the monsters that lurk under beds if we don’t allow them to fight the monsters in the trees with the sticks that they have hunted for, but we have branded them dangerous, the sticks and the trees.
Being a little boy is confusing, and that is why they just give up, because it is easier to do nothing than it is to try and learn the rules of the game of life that are constantly being changed by the people in charge of them. Why is it okay to say that word in front of daddy and make him laugh, but I get spanked by daddy if I say that same word at school? Boys need consistency, in the way we love them, but they don’t need constancy in the way we scold them. We like to change the rules for boys because we don’t even know how the world works, but that doesn’t matter, he will do what we tell him, because he loves us, and he wants us happy, even if that doesn’t make him happy.
Being a man is hard, especially if we aren’t allowed to be a little boy. Because if we don’t play out the childhood in our youth, then we are forced to play it out in our later years. Sooner or later, the kid will want to play, and the playground in adulthood is much more dangerous than the ones we should have played on as a kid. And the stakes are much higher. Peter Pan will always return to Neverland, unless he already played in that wonderful place as a boy, and then as an adult, he captures the ship from Captain Hook and sets sail for other places, braver places, places that serve him well now, as an adult, rather than staying back at a Neverland and remaining a kid.
Having a boy is wonderful, and should be celebrated. So today celebrate the little boy in your life, allow him to be the boy, let him eat the ice cream and scuff his knees. He has plenty of time to be a big man, later, when the world asks more of him, but right now, he is a little boy, your little boy, and maybe you should let the wonder that is in his life live on a little longer.