building a boy.
I have been asking myself what it takes to raise a good man since my first son was born 8 years ago. There are so many questions, hopes, and desires poured into that little babe in the first five seconds of life. All the planning in the world, the color schemes and diaper bags matter naught when that first cry is heard. I literally thought my heart would collapse from the emotion brought on by that one small cry. There is a sudden fierceness you feel gnawing at your heart. There have been heart breaking moments and moments of pure victory. And times my heart collapsed under the weight of my joy. After a recent trip to photograph an abandoned bridge a thought started building. I was amazed that this bridge was still standing after all the years of abuse. It was overgrown and graffitied, cracks ran in the pavement like spider webs. But overall it was solid beneath my feet even after years of disuse.
The planning and execution of building a bridge amazes me.
So my thinking started with a basic question: What does it take to build a boy? When we first get the job of building a boy we stand back and look at the land. See what we have and how we need to change our personal landscape to make the boys life in the best place we are able. Whether that means removing deep roots or shoring up what we already have are the beginnings of a strong foundation.
Then we gather materials like discipline, love and understanding to lay the groundwork for the boy raising. Many times what we need to build a boy are hard things like iron, concrete and steel. But these things are important if we want the boy to stand in a storm. The early stage of boy building are crucial to the future strength of the framework. Once your ground is solid and the framework of the boy begins his life experiences create the joints that weave together to make the structure. The bolts needed to hold him together are most important. Bolts are the people he loves most and who love him back. These people are crucial just as the materials are. These people hold the love and discipline together and they need to be as strong as he is to withhold his weight. If the bolts are weak, so are the joints and angles I lovingly measured and applied.
Building a boy is never easy. It is painstaking work to craft a boy that will grow into a passionate, loving man. I have truly poured my heart into his design, from the materials I use to his every angle and bolt. When I am old and gray, wearing five different kinds of plaid at the same time with tissues stuffed up my sleeve, I will be able to look at my boy and say my design was solid. His lines are true and angles are still strong. And when the storm comes, as it inevitable will, his foundation will not be shaken.
I know that at whatever cost I will continue to build him into the man he needs to be even if he sways when the wind hits him from time to time. When he’s grown, I will be able to sit back on the edge of his life and admire his framework against the sky. I will see that my crafting will hold him together.
He will be my handiwork, my legacy.