Our Story Begins
Are We Raising Weaker Boys?
Lately . . . as my twin boys get older and older, first getting taller than their oldest sister; and now approaching the five-foot-ten frame of their other sister . . . I have begun to worry about whether or not I have been teaching him the things boys need to know.
Yes . . . I said things a boy needs to know. I realize that sounds a little chauvinistic as well as one-sided, but it’s worth hearing out.
First . . . there was a study in North Carolina that says, physically, we are raising boys who are weaker. Comparing men in 1985 to those today, men had a grip that equated to 117 pounds of pressure. Today . . . it’s 98 pounds. (No, that’s not a misprint so I can say 98-pound weakling. It’s the actual stat.) The reasons are myriad, of course. Our kids, the men they grow up to be . . . they tend to do less manual labor and less outside exercise and work. In essence, they’re getting heavier, doing less, and getting weaker.
Women, on the other hand, seem to have the equivalent strength. Some of that is because women entered the work force and are given some opportunities . . . not enough of them . . . that were mainly carried by men. Their strength improved or remained the same while that of the men reduced.
Do I think “it’s a man’s world” and that is it? No. Not the point at all.
I do think, though, that some of the very things from the chivalrous and . . . I’ll just come out and say it . . . atypical Midwestern upbringing should not be left by the wayside.
I tell my sons to open doors for everyone, not just women but everyone.
Over the weekend I made sure that all my kids saw how to change the oil in my car and how to check the oil. How to add oil. How to know where the filter is. To open a hood and NOT know at least what you’re looking at is something you should at least know. Maybe you have someone else do the work . . . but in a pinch you should be able to get things moving.
You never . . . ever . . . ever . . . ever . . . (did I say ever?) . . . hit a woman. Never. She might throw a coffee mug at your head. You don’t hit her. Period. Leave the situation if the anger starts to rise.
I drove by the park on my way to work today and noticed a bunch of kids at the park. You notice I didn’t say “playing” at the park. They were sitting on the grass with phones in their hands and using them . . . at the park. Here’s the thing: I remember shoveling snow off my parents’ driveway and waiting for it to dry enough to play basketball in the winter. I played football and catch with my brothers and spent hours and hours outside and riding bikes. It was just what you did.
Add to that the fact that my parents simply made me do a lot of chores. We mowed the lawn all the time. We painted the house, out buildings, and fences. We built things. We changed the oil in our cars and rebuilt the engine on a 1938 Plymouth. We drove cars with manual transmissions.
Do all these things make you a man? No. Of course not. But they . . . I shudder as I say this because I sound like my dad but . . . they build character. A good man can hold their kid, their wife, their friend and listen . . . and also have some grease under his fingernails. He can also appreciate a glass of wine, a good beer, a great game of baseball and the like.
By the way . . . I’ve known my share of women who are that way, too. That’s a good thing.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go open a bottle of Pinot Noir . . . I deserve a reward for changing the oil on my car.