My Son Is Young

My 5-year-old son can be a real knucklehead sometimes.

I don’t mean that in any derogatory kind of way. He’s just, well, 5, which means he is routinely capable of performing any number of totally irrational and illogical acts. Just the other day, I walked into his room to find the mattress from the bottom bunk of his bunk beds on the floor and him perched along the railing of the top bunk, lining up his next leap. And I say “next” because he had, apparently, already completed several before I came in to investigate what he was doing.

Nearly 10 years ago, when my wife and I discovered we would having a girl for our first child, I was terrified. What in the world was I going to do with a girl? My only sibling was a brother, and there weren’t even that many girls in our extended family. After four years with one daughter and two with another, we found out we were going to have our first boy. Rather than feeling a sense of relief, the same terror that struck me when I found out our first girl was on the way returned: What in the world was I going to do with a boy?

I’ve always felt my son was a little behind the 8 ball in a way. Whereas with our first child my wife and I were able to carefully construct and monitor every situation and influence in her life, my son often finds himself in situations with his older siblings, meaning he can sometimes be in over his head a bit. Movies, books, learning activities, conversations. I almost feel like sometimes he never got a chance to start at ground level. Even worse, because he’s a boy, I often harbor an expectation that he can just “man up” and take it. Boys are supposed to be rough and tumble, and we dads are supposed to harden their edges, push them into the battle, encourage them to go above and beyond. Right?

In a way, some of that is correct. In another way, most of what I just wrote can be totally wrong. While I would love for my son to be the most mature, capable, rugged, masculine boy in the universe, the fact remains that he is just 5 years old. He’ll watch “The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe” with his sisters, but sometimes he just wants to see what Caillou is up to. I think it would be cool if he and I built a fort together, but sometimes he just wants to take a stick and dig holes in the dirt. He’s a big brother now and sleeps on the top bunk, but he still likes to have his Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear to keep him company.

My mom recently bought a Grover Wii game for my youngest son, who just turned 2 in February. Seeing as how my youngest son doesn’t even know what a Wii is yet, his older brother and I decided a few nights ago we’d show him how the game worked. I got to play for about two minutes. My 5-year-old son went nuts over the game, jumping, hopping, turning, and laughing. The forger-of-men in me wanted to tell him to settle down, that this was a little kid’s game, that he and I should be doing something else. The dad in me could only smile. My son is young. Why can’t I just remember that?

So, today, if your son is making paper lunch sacks into hand puppets or constructing a fort inside your house using chairs from the kitchen table and blankets from the bedroom or riding his bicycle full speed down the driveway toward an eagerly awaiting tree, remember, your son is young. He won’t be forever.

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