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February 15, 2010

The Raising of Boys

How do you learn to raise a son when half your life, your dad wasn't in the picture? My dad chose to leave our family when I was in my early teens - really the most formative time of life for a boy. That is the time when someone should really be driving home lessons on being a man. How you treat a woman, how to have integrity, helping in sports, learning to deal with hormones, success and know what I mean?

For some strange reason, I don't have a lot of memories of my childhood. Other people I've talked to can actually remember events from the time they were three or four years old. I can't seem to remember much of anything before about 4th grade. I've often wondered if those memories are trapped there and I just won't them out. That was the time when my family was together and things seemed to be going well. Is it possible that I've defined myself through the hard times so much so that my mind has programmed itself to block off the good memories?

Here I am, 29 years old with two little boys of my own. Thoughts go through my head all the time about whether or not I'm going to mess those guys up. Take last night for example. Emerson and Braeden are eating dinner at the table. Sandra is holding Landen in her arms and I'm talking to him and having fun. Then, as I often do, I waited until he had been looking away for a little while and lunged for him, grabbing his leg and yelling at the same time. Of course he jumps pretty good, but Braeden also got a pretty good startle and dropped his fork and knocked over his drink. The thing is that I REALLY like scaring them. Am I going to create trust issues if I keep this up?

Braeden is especially difficult at times. He can be the sweetest little kid you meet if he wants to be. Other times, he is amazingly stubborn and difficult. Probably a nice combination of mom and dad showing up in him (but probably mostly dad). It's so easy to be patient with Emerson because she is always the one to try and please us because she loves us. Perhaps it's a first child thing because almost everyone I know had a very easy first child. They listen well, follow directions, are polite, spoke earlier, potty trained earlier, etc. Why do I have such a hard time showing grace to a three year old boy when he's upset over something? Other times, he runs up to me when we're playing or after we've been wrestling and kisses me and says, "I so love you Dad."

I'm reading a book right now called Raising a Modern Day Knight. It talks about how men don't really understand what it is to be a man and the importance of ceremony and father in helping boys know when and how they become men. My oldest son is three and my younger will be one on Saturday, but I'm already looking forward to starting these ceremonies with them in their teens. I'm already thinking of creative way to help initiate them into manhood and help them know what it means to live as a man. All of this starts with me though and how I treat them even when they are three and one.