There are many things that little boys are good at. They’re good at making friends and making noise. They’re great at picking noses, scabs and fights. Boys can make sounds with their bodies that seem disproportionate to their size and innocence.
Really, when you think about it. Boys are great at many things.
But the thing they tend to do best, is GROW. You spend stupid money on career-making football boots one season, only to discover they can’t get their toes into them the next.
This kind of growth requires no effort. The growth happening on the inside, however, is a different matter. I often remind my sons that I’m not raising boys, my job is to raise men. The lessons I fail to teach them today, life will most certainly teach them later. Usually without mercy.
Kids don’t get this of course; and they often resist learning. If only all the adults would shut up and stop trying to make us better. We’ll grow up eventually.
Or will they?
The other day I decided to do something rather strange to illustrate to my sons the very crucial difference between ‘growing old’ and ‘growing up’. We pulled over outside a construction site and borrowed one brick (for an indefinite period of time!). We then drove the brick to an empty lot near our house and I asked one of my boys to place it on the grass.
We sat in the car watching the brick for a few minutes. After some time in silence, I asked the boys if they could see anything happening. No, nothing happening. “What about if we come back in a week, do you guys think the brick might become a wall? Or in a year, what are the chances of it growing into a house? In ten years, could it become a cathedral?”
They all looked at me like I was stupid. Cue for me to make my point: even in a million years, that one brick won’t become anything more than it is today. Because time alone, changes nothing.
I explained to my silent audience that to grow into something better, is a deliberate choice. It is a choice to learn, read, explore, challenge, accept correction, take risks… and the sad result of ignoring opportunities to grow is seen in the many so called ‘grown ups’ walking around with the emotional and intellectual capacity of a child.
Every morning as we drive past Lord Bernie Brick (as they have named him), we check if he’s grown into anything amazing overnight. And each time that he hasn’t, it serves as a reminder to the boys, that they won’t grow into good men by accident either.
It’s going to be a daily choice.