What Little Boys Are Made Of

The jury is still out on slugs, snail, puppy dog tails, or anything else of that nature, but one thing is certain–every little boy is a future man. Each day I see new traits of my son’s masculinity begin to express itself. Lately, he’s decided that he must tangle. He absolutely must fight someone head to head with no holds barred in a battle that renders one the victor and the other–a scheming loser. As you may have deduced, the scheming loser is Henry because his only allowed target is his father and the weight-difference alone is clearly not in his favor.

Of course, both my children love to inflict physical pain on their dear old Dad, and few things bring them greater joy than a well-aimed punch or body slam to their old man’s ribs. However, it wasn’t really till the other day when AJ was home in time for dinner, and all Henry wanted to do was fight over anything that I realized how much he craves and needs that daily challenge of measuring his strength and violent force against the mannest man of them all–Dad. After all, there’s no satisfaction in wrestling with Violet–she’s still stronger and definitely more coordinated so the fights end quick and usually result in tearful apologies from both of them. Wrestling with Mom just isn’t done, but mostly because he resorts to making baby animal noises and we all end up snuggling. Super manly. Things are different with dads and little boys though. It’s almost primal–like watching a wild animal play with their cubs; the huge restraint on the part of the parent and the all-in war cries and throat head-butts of the cub-boy, both fostering a safe place to test and measure and aim high.

Of course, being a man isn’t about your ability to be physically violent, but lets not forget that fostering that appropriate aggression is integral in shaping the man he will become. A protector of women, children, and the needy. A provider who is confident in his abilities. A loving father and spouse who knows the importance of being fully engaged on every level with his family. And so in the meantime, the boy measures his strength against his father. He’s two. I worry about AJ’s health by the time Henry reaches highschool…

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