Owen was 8. His brother’s friend was 14. We were all in the car driving to the lake for the weekend. The friend called his mom. “Did you remember to pack my contact lens solution?” “You didn’t! Mom, you always forget that!”
I looked at Owen in the rearview mirror. He was staring at the friend with a look of serious concern. Once the friend was off the phone he asked, incredulously, “Did your mom pack your suitcase?”
“Not very well!” the friend replied. Owen began to giggle. “My mom has never packed my suitcase!” Although this was not completely true, Owen had never known a day that he did not pack his own suitcase.
The youngest of 4 boys, Owen has always thought he was as old and as capable as his brothers. Early on, I would give the older boys written lists of items to pack for trips. Owen could not yet read, but asked me to draw pictures of what he needed. Pretty soon he could not be bothered with the list and just made his own packing selections. Admittedly, he has a preference for packing light. Once for a week at the lake house he packed a toothbrush, two swimsuits, a white t-shirt, and his church clothes. He managed just fine.
I once read that the definition of a boy is “a noise with dirt on it.” This definition is a bit simplistic. I might instead say “a hungry noise with dirt on it,” but it does ring true to my ears . . . to the extent that they still work.
Boys are noisy. Boys are dirty. And this is good, for many of the most heroic things, done by the best of men, involve both. If you have boys or hope to have boys just accept this reality from the beginning. You will have a much happier life.
Early on, as the noise and the dirt started to get to me, I thought it through. At a fundamental level, boys are loud and messy. If I did not like these “qualities” then on one level I just did not like boys. Given that I appeared to be in the habit of giving birth to one every 19 months, that just would not do. Continue reading →
“The aim of the boy is to tell the world ‘I am a force to be reckoned with.’” Having known four boys quite well, I agree. Here are some thoughts on boys finding their callings.
On a morning walk through Krutch Park in downtown Knoxville, I notice something that should not be there.
The juvenile scrawl, in black Sharpie marker on the creek-side boulder, proclaims to all who pass “Bogey was here.” Other stones bear witness to the date and time of the visit and to Bogey’s love of soccer. One displays a drawing of a flag, firmly planted in the rock. Bogey left his mark.
When I come across the vandalism, I am confused and even angered. How can a child be so selfish? How could he have so little respect for the beauty of the setting, provided by the goodness of another? And even the self-righteous “Where was his mother?” These are valid questions, but not the most interesting. Instead, why did Bogey do it?