Boys Will Be Boys

It’s Not An Excuse

Me at age 16 in my 1964 Falcon
Me at age 16 in my 1964 Falcon

Some use it as an excuse for rough housing behavior, or even acting out, but there is something to the old adage, “Boys will be boys.”  As we move from the old cliches of the past we slowly see the mantel of identity slipping away from gender specific roles.

This is not totally bad, but there are those of us who still live with a foot in the past that see things the way it was when we were growing up and compare the “boys to men” ladder that is prevalent in our culture today….

I may not understand a lot of what is happening – tattoos, body piercings, clothing, hair, etc.,, but I can tell you each person of youth today will someday stand in the exact same position I am and see their past slip away as the boys change even further into something they will not understand.

It’s hard to change; nor do I feel the need to change.

Yet, as I see boys looking different, I can only assume that there may come a day when they will no longer be “boys” – they are rapidly slipping into something where the things I enjoyed as a boy are no longer seen as fit for modern times. So, I ask, “What kind of men will they be?”

For example, growing up it was nothing to act out a war scene with our rubber knives and play guns. We would do things that we only assumed was done by men in times of war – some heroic, and some … well, let’s just say we would all be squeamish if we actually did the things we only imagined while at play. Bombs, machine guns, bazooka’s, bayonets… Well, you get the picture. War is dirty!

Today, boys play more gruesome games on their consoles and see more horrific death scenes than I could have imagined as a child. They know more filthy language, more sexual things, and have learned to act out younger in crimes against other humans.

I did not grow up with guns a main focus of life. I have Dad’s .22 single shot rifle mom had given to him as a wedding present. I have my granddad’s .22 tube fed rifle that grandmother gave him as a one year anniversary present. And, I have my own .22 pump action that my girlfriend gave me for Christmas right before we married. (Thank you Brenda!) I have 3 generations of .22 rifles and they are my pride and joy when it comes to the guns I own.
It is true, I got a single shot .20 gauge shotgun when I was about 12 or 13. Still own it! But these guns were never for play – only hunting.
As I grew older I added guns to my collection and only occasionally take them out to shoot or hunt.
Owning and shooting guns does not make me a criminal, nor did I pass that behavior down the genetic line.
I was always different... Can you pick out which one was me?
I was always different… Can you pick out which one was me?

Acting out as a boy of the 50’s and 60’s did not make me a fighter, nor a rude person. Wrestling with my brothers, challenging others to a BB Gun Shoot Out, chasing snakes around Fish Gale Lake (Spelling?), or even riding roughly on my bike or motorcycle – none of this made me a wild adult.

So, play acting things in boyhood does not make you a bad person today. It’s when we take these same aggression’s into adulthood that we start to get into trouble!

Yet, a lot of what we did as boys are not part of the culture today.

For one thing, the world has changed a lot. Modern times and modern crimes have caught up to society and it’s not safe for a boy to take off on his bike and be gone all day.

Yet we did. Often!

When we lived in  Seabrook, Channelview, or when we went to the country, it would be nothing for us to be gone just about all day playing with friends, building forts in the woods, playing all around the water front of rivers and lakes, taking inner tubes and swimming far from shore and out of sight of home, jumping off of cliffs, camping out (even in the back yard), going frog hunting at midnight. When the rains came we would dam up the ditch and make ponds to play with our home made boats.

Life was nice! Rugged! And still it was safe.

I grew up around animals. Farm and family animals. It was fun, yet I was not the rodeo type to ride a bronc out of the chute into an arena.

Age 15, Welsh Pony I got for free while working at Benson Printing Company
Age 15, Welsh Pony I got for free while working at Benson Printing Company

It was more fun to have them as something to pet and feed, something to learn responsibility.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, and encourage them to be watchful, firm in the faith and to act like men – strong. My imagination cannot compare their childhood years to mine, nor do I understand all the strife of the day and what it meant to be a man.

So, I do not know what prompted this message from Paul, but read his words and see what you think about his message to men.

When Timothy comes, see that you put him at ease among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord, as I am. So let no one despise him. Help him on his way in peace, that he may return to me, for I am expecting him with the brothers. Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to visit you with the other brothers, but it was not at all his will to come now. He will come when he has opportunity. Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. Now I urge you, brothers–you know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints– be subject to such as these, and to every fellow worker and laborer. I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have made up for your absence, for they refreshed my spirit as well as yours. Give recognition to such men.  (1 Corinthians 16:10-18 ESV)

There are some deep thoughts here for men. Do not despise. Watchful. Standing. Firm. In the Faith. Act. Like Men. Strong. In Love. Service. To Saints. Refresh.

If Boys will be Boys, then somehow we must grow them into Men.

Here’s a favorite writing from Rudyard Kipling, writing to his son. He died just 19 years before I was born.  American author, Henry James, said: “Kipling strikes me personally as the most complete man of genius (as distinct from fine intelligence) that I have ever known.”

Rudyard Kipling

“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!”
~Rudyard Kipling, If: A Father’s Advice to His Son (around 1909)
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