I watched with interest this week, boys at play, as we sat on the shore of Monterey Bay. Those of you who know me, know that I love to see the fearlessness of boys at play. The water on the Northern California coast is COLD. So even though I go to the beach often, I don’t go dip my feet in the water too much, much less get in it.
The first boy I saw was with his three older sisters and his parents. His father stood stoically, watching his family, the girls squealed and ran from the waves each time they came near. The boy however, who was no more than 4 or 5 years old, kept running towards the waves. His mother, out of her fear, kept yelling at him, to stay to her right. He would straighten up and get on her right side, meaning the water would float over his ankles but this was quickly boring and pretty soon, he’d lose control and run towards the wave. He finally exhausted his mother and got a good swat on his bottom and she told him that he couldn’t swim, the tide could carry him out and if he didn’t listen he’d have to go stand by his dad. He pouted, got red-faced and got in his place, but not for long. You see, the warrior in him needed to go conquer the waves. He needed to go feel the water not just on his ankles but on his body as well. The struggle arrived because he was fearless and his mom was fearful. Welcome to the world of women, I said to my husband.
Then two boys arrived, older boys, maybe 10 or 11. “Dare me to dunk myself in the next wave.” “Okay, I dare you, is it cold?” “Of course it’s cold, it’s freezing but you just have to do it!” I had to laugh because this is the battle cry of little warriors, they must overcome the obstacles and look bold and strong in front of their friends. While the girls on the beach that were about the same age as the boys, laid on the sand and talked on their cell phones, and giggled and listened to their ipod, the warriors had work to do. They had contests to see who could build the best fort out of sand, they had to go run through the girls blanket and get it wet and full of sand, they had to make mud balls to fling at each other and at the girls. They had to dare each other to jump from the pier, which they did with gusto, never even considering how deep or shallow the water was. They had water guns, and when that didn’t work they threw pebbles at each other and wrestled and hit. They got mad at each other and then made up quickly. They tried their best to outdo each other in each endeavor they took on.
It’s so important that we recognize this innate nature in the life of a boy. We must celebrate it and not try to subdue it. It is their design. They do consider themselves warriors and they do have a battle to fight, even if right now, it’s imaginary, it is nevertheless preparation for the life they will live as men. Later, as they grow older, they will discover the battles on the sports fields, the battles on the golf course, the battles in the workplace, the battles for the girl worth fighting for, the battles as the armchair quarterback, the battles of a husband and the battles of a father. Celebrate those little warriors. Although most of us women will never truly understand their need to conquer their fears and confront the world in which they live, we must recognize their need to be victorious and to be the hero in their life. We will thank God one day for the man that fights for his family and will do whatever it takes to lead them and keep them safe at any cost.