From Boys to Men
With her hands digging into my neck and back—the places on my body always most in need of attention—Vivian, my masseuse, was talking about her nephews.
“They’re the cleanest boys I’ve ever seen,” she told her brother, their father.
“They’re city boys,” he had told her.
“So, I took them camping,” Vivian said, digging into my trapezius. “We went out to the desert, hiked near Anza-Borrego. First, they were complaining about the heat, asking when we were going to be done. I asked them ‘What would you do if you ran out of water?’ They didn’t know. I said, ‘Where do you think you would look for water?’ Anywhere you see green, I told them. I had them lead me to a patch of trees where we found a pond off the trail. By the end of the hike, they loved it.”
I agreed with Vivian, my face buried in the soft donut of the massage table. “I can’t wait to go camping with my boys. They’re only two and three, so in a couple more years.”
“My nephews are seven and eight. The younger the better.” She kneaded my shoulders. “You know, we’re raising men. They’re only going to be boys for a little while.”
And it occurred to me, the tension in my neck and jaw now released, that she’s 100 per cent right. Little boys are men in training. At the very least we have to teach them to be self-sufficient; how to survive in the wilds of both the city and the frontier.
Vivian’s wisdom, and her working of my twisted muscles, stayed with me for a few days. Though these little guys are sweet and cute, and we want them to be babies forever, they will one day be men. We, fathers, mothers, aunties, or whomever, have a duty to show them where to find the water, and then be able to carry it.
Photo credit: Robert Couse-Baker.