- J.R. Moehringer, The Tender Bar
My wife and I raised a son and we now have a 2 ½-year-old grandson. We also have two daughters and three granddaughters. I’m not one of those guys that just had to have a son, but we are truly blessed with our son and grandson. All the girls make my heart melt and I wouldn't trade them for the world, but this article is about boys and what dads do to feed their imaginations, give them great memories, and teach them to be men.
Most boys have a natural affinity for trucks, rocks, dirt, and a general lack of gentleness. This may offend some who have more liberal ideas about sexual identity. But I certainly don’t intend to do that. One of my daughters knew a couple that kept the sex of their child secret for its first two years; the idea being that they didn’t want to ‘influence’ the child’s sexual identity. Similarly, there are large chain stores that no longer distinguish what were traditional boy and girl toys, nor will they identify them with masculine blue or feminine pink. That’s silly in my opinion, but I could be wrong. I think most boys and girls don't need to be led by blue or pink anyway. Certainly, never force a boy to do what is often considered traditional boy things if it's not what he enjoys.
Rocks! Little boys like to throw rocks, or just about anything they get into their hands. This natural tendency can get them into trouble and worse, hurt someone. To give him a safe place to practice his fastball, I take my grandson to a nearby creek and let him throw big and little rocks into the creek. Oftentimes, he’ll pick out a rock he can barely pick up let alone throw into the creek—but he loves the big splashes. With the smaller rocks, I try to get him to throw with his throwing hand close to his ear to develop good form. Just to let him think I’m pretty special, I’ll find some flat rocks and skip them on the surface. It’s fun to watch him try to do the same. There is a time and a place for everything.
Dirt, sand, and water! Magnets attract, but not like grime attracts little boys. They love to get down and dirty. Take them to the beach, park, river, lake and let them get dirty. Of course be prepared with proper clothes, shoes (or no shoes), and sunscreen. Keep them safe but otherwise let them romp in the dirt like a piglet.
Ryan naps with his toy trucks and rides around in his red and yellow plastic car. He constantly begs to get in my truck and “drive-drive”, in which he stands in the driver’s seat and whips the steering wheel side to side. More than once I’ve found lights and switches on or in the wrong position. He cries when I tell him we must move on, but once he is told, that's it. He doesn't complain very long because it doesn't work.
These activities are just examples of what most boys like to do. Boys need to be boys. They need to feel their oats and explore their world. While doing so, they need guidance in being male and who better to do that than their father. Dads can mold their sons, not by changing them, but by smoothing out the rough edges. If not there to guide them, the rough areas can grow unchecked. The key is balance--balance between freedom and rules! Freedom to grow, explore, feel, experience, learn, examine, and to win and lose. Rules are necessary for their safety, to teach limits, to know authority and learn respect. Little boys don't learn to balance these things on their own. We see what happens when boys grow up without the mentorship of a good father, never learning this balancing act. We can't let that happen! Spend time with your boys! Raise good men who will do they same with their boys. That includes you, grandfathers.