It is hard to believe, but we are already in the process of trying to figure out what summer camps the children are going to attend this year. It is freaking January, but if you don’t do it soon you risk missing out. So here I am like another lemming reading and reviewing camp brochures.
One of the brochures had that tired old line about turning boys into men. It is a phrase that I find tedious, if not downright irksome. It is overused, overplayed and turned into a cheap cliche. More than that I don’t see a need for it to be included for a camp for six year olds.
It could be because I find that many of the people who use that line are not people that I consider to be the definition of masculinity. Or maybe it is just because it reminds me of an experience I had during a school camping trip.
The year was 1982 and I was one of about 100 students who were attending a two day overnight at Leo Carrillo State Park. For the most part I have good memories of that trip. There were some great hikes, a couple of cool campfires and a spin the bottle game that was out of control. We were young teenagers on hormonal overdrive. I can still tell you the names of some of the girls that I kissed and how it made me feel.
I could also tell you about the jackass teacher’s aide who tried to tell me and some of the other guys what we had to do to be men, especially when it came to women. The things that he said made me very uncomfortable. Now I am not going to lie and say that the reason they made me uncomfortable was solely because he objectified women. It bothered me, but at the same time I didn’t necessarily speak up either.
The source of my discomfort came from the way he spoke about women and the feeling that he was lying about his experiences. He was a braggart who reveled in telling these stories about all of the girls that he claimed had been with him. Even though I was pretty naive, I could feel that he wasn’t being honest.
And now looking back in time it is so obvious to me that was lying. Certainly he is not the only man to lie about his conquests in the bedroom. It is a stupid trait that some men have. I suppose that some of it comes from insecurity. Maybe it is an inability to allow their illusions of grandeur to be deflated. Self indulgent egos sometimes require stroking. To be fair I should add that I have known women like this as well.
I once had a girlfriend who claimed that she was the one who broke up with me, even though there was a note proving otherwise.
But moving back to the theme of this post, I am interested in making my son into a man. It is my responsibility to do so. But I have very specific ideas of what kind of man I want him to be. He doesn’t have to be the best athlete or the smartest, though I wouldn’t mind. He doesn’t have to be the strongest or the fastest, though I wouldn’t mind that either.
What he has to be is someone who has character and integrity. Someone who g-d willing is not driven solely by ego. I want him to learn responsibility, to be accountable for his actions. A person of good character.
If he does these things I can be certain that everything else will fall into place.
On a side note I offer this comment to my fellow parents. Do you ever stare at your children and try to envision what they’ll look like as adults?
I do. Not too often, but every now and then I try to picture grown ups walking around the house. Sometimes I think about what it will be like to be called Grandpa Jack.
Enough on that for now.