It was seven years ago at least. Bella kept slamming her bedroom door when she was mad. I had told her that if she did it again that she would lose her door. Sure enough, roughly one week later she slammed it. Quickly and without yelling (or saying anything at all) I went up with a screwdriver and hammer and took her door off of the hinges. I then put the door in our bedroom for the duration of her punishment.
A few hours later Joe walked by her room, looked in, and said, “What’s up Doorless?” I reprimanded him and gave him some sort of punishment for not loving his sister. When I told my brother Tom about this he was shocked, “How could you do that to him? That’s what a big brother is supposed to do! He’s got to keep her in check.” This might explain some of the strife growing up between him and my sister Cathy. I told him that if he wanted to give him an “atta boy” that I would not stop him nor could I endorse it. Of course he did the very next time he saw him. By the way, Bella has never slammed a door since.
Several years ago Joe was at jiu-jitsu. His biggest problem there is that he is simply not aggressive enough. After class one day, and directly in front of Rachel, his instructor said, “Joe, you have to be more aggressive. Look, whenever I go out there I try to beat the f’ing sh!t out of people.” Realizing that he said this to a 12ish year old boy in front of his mother he said to Rachel. “Sorry.” Rachel replied, “I’ll allow it.”
A couple of weeks ago Joe had a rough class at jiu-jitsu. Rachel asked him to lift up his shirt to see how bad his gi (the martial arts robe for training) burns were (he does have sensitive skin and often looks like he has been in a dryer for an hour). The crazy psycho looking muay thai instructor came running over and grabbed Joe’s hand saying, “YOU NEVER SHOW YOUR MOM THAT STUFF.” I appreciate that…Rachel less so.
Sometimes when raising a boy to be a man you need the help of others. I’ve got the “love others” and “meet others needs” on lock. He gets it. I’ve got the “how to work a room and make people laugh” drilled into him. Loving God and serving Him wherever he leads you? He’s heard it and gets it. However I’m not all things. I need the help of others.
Last weekend, while Rachel was hosting a mini baby shower, Joe and I went over to the soon to be father’s house to hang with some guys. I told him that we would be male bonding which is defined as, “Anytime women aren’t there.” There are no special activities or topics…just hanging. Granted, when the conversation turned to breast feeding and bottle nipples that are more realistic Joe did almost go catatonic and we may have poured it on a bit…but I digress.
Tonight we are going over to my brother’s to eat meat and watch the movie Tombstone. Someone actually asked what side dishes we would be eating. Side dishes? We’re eating meat! Some may wonder…why would you let Joe watch that movie? Isn’t it too violent? Aren’t there women scantily clad in bustiers? I’m not only letting him watch it, I’m excited. Wyatt Earp is as manly as it gets. The bond between him and Doc Holiday is one that I could only pray Joe finds in a best friend. But what of the drinking, the shootings, the revenge? I trust that I have shown him enough of what God calls us to be that he sees it for what it is. Further, having watched it with some other trusted men that are in his life only gives him the opportunity to talk with them down the line if and when he doesn’t want to talk with me…his “old man.”
I can’t do it alone. It takes more (I will not say that it takes a village). He needs his uncle(s) to root him on. There has to be the jiu-jitu intructor and muay thai teacher (who may in fact be tougher than me). There has to be other men that he’s not related to, but that I trust, that will mirror the same values and characteristics that I want for him.
Either that, or I am way off base and have made some tragic mistakes. We’ll see.
ps-I’m almost more excited for my brother to see Tombstone as he never has before.