Boys to Men
My first son.
My first teenager.
He turned 15 yesterday.
He signed up for drivers Ed on the eve of his birthday, paying for it out of his own pocket.
He asked for steak and potatoes for his birthday meal. And a pineapple. I still see his childishness around the edges. He needs reminders to keep abreast of chores, and put down the phone, his friends should be finishing their own homework anyway. He has to be admonished to think of how his jokes might be construed by their object. He has to apologize often.
I also see his manhood breaking through. He wakes to read his Bible in the quiet of each morning. He really never complains about the monotony of chores. He chips the ice off the walkway in the winter and hauls in firewood, and shovels out the hen coop in the heat of summer, the composting shavings sticking to his arms as he bends over the shovel. He applied for a job nearly a year ago, on his own volition, and shows up on schedule with a will to work, even when he knows it means he’ll be on garbage duty for hours. He invests in the sore muscles that come from lifting weights, running drills, and submitting to coaching. He handles the life cycle of the chickens, from gently caring for fluffy babies, to ending the life of suffering hens himself when necessary.
He doesn’t fear much.
There is so much I want to say to him.
So much advice.
So many hopes and dreams.
So many who are so much wiser than I have said so much more on the subject of crossing the line into manhood than I can.
I scoured the Bible for verses to share.
I read Rudyard Kipling’s If and William Earnest Henry’s Invictus and too many blog posts from the Art of Manliness and Focus on the Family. I examined rituals and rites of other cultures and generations.
Apparently becoming a man is a big deal.
And so it should be.
I think it must be difficult, judging from the abundance of boys in grown up bodies in the world. It doesn’t necessarily come naturally.
A boy can be born.
A man must be made.
So I will try to teach him...
That chivalry isn’t dead.
That the right way is usually the hard way.
That the strongest lift others up rather than put them down.
A real leader is often last in line.
Humility is a king’s best virtue.
Perseverance, a beggar’s best.
Learn to cook. At least eggs.
Be a thermostat, not a thermometer. Set the tone for the room, don’t just react to it.
Keep your friends. Those ones you have now, don’t take them for granted. You’ll need relationships with those guys who will have your back when going gets tough. Because it will.
Make your bed and wash the dishes. Every day.
Read many books, but live in the Bible.
Stand firm. But apologize quickly when you know you’re wrong.
A good woman will see your potential and encourage you to rise to it. She’s worth keeping. Buy her flowers every time you think of it. And think of it often.
Take many pictures, but post very few of them.
Most fights aren’t worth starting, and most ARE worth ending. Choose them wisely.
When in doubt, keep your mouth shut.
Don’t be defined by your career.
You can be strong and gentle at the same time.
Never grow too old to play with little kids.
You have two ears and one mouth for a reason.
Men should have feelings. But they don’t make decisions based on them.
Ultimately, there is plenty of good advice out there. But I think Jesus summed it up best (He has a knack for that).
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.
I can’t share the stories I could when he was young, because as he grows into himself, they become less mine to share.
But I’ll always be his mom, and I’ll always love him unconditionally.
Happy birthday young man.