Too many ‘men behaving badly’ stories lately – here’s a tale of some boys being sweet.
My wife and I went to our pre-k son’s holiday party. Twenty-eight 5-year-olds wearing their PJ’s as a treat painted upside down sugar cones with green frosting and decorated them with candy to make miniature Christmas trees. They colored and glued buttons and stars onto Popsicle stick triangles to make ornaments for their own trees at home. They gobbled up a slice of cold pepperoni pizza and drank juice from a box while we parents cleaned up and scrubbed down the spaces around them.
And then it was movie time.
‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ was the featured flick and it was going to be appearing on the teacher’s giant computer screen. She told the class to grab their seats on the carpet and everyone scrambled to get a spot. A few of the kids, including my son, had brought blankets, so they spread them out and got comfortable with their friends. Since not all of the kids brought blankets, my son told his buddies he’d share his and they quickly flooded his blanket with bodies, which created a problem.
There was no room left for my son.
My wife and I were in the back of the room watching the entire scene unfold. My son’s first move was to let his busy teacher know about the injustice, but she was in the middle of something more pressing and told him to sit back down. We could tell that our son, a decent listener, wanted to obey, but the whole point of his complaint was that there was no room to sit down in the first place.
That’s when he started to cry.
My little buddy’s lip started to quiver and then the tears started to roll. The first thing I thought was oh boy, crying in front of all of his male friends is going to get him mocked, or mimicked, or worse yet, pushed around as being weak. The way powerful males have been dominating and abusing their weaker cohorts these days, I figured these tough little punks would have a field day with my sensitive boy.
Instead, something incredible happened.
One of his friends saw him crying, came up, put his arm around his little shoulders, and asked him why he was sad. My son couldn’t answer because, well, he was crying. This would have been the moment where a lesser boy would have kicked him when he was down. Instead of laughing or making my son feel worse than he already did, this kid did the most unexpected thing you could imagine.
He gave my son a hug.
Then he asked my wife why our son was crying, and she told him that he had brought his blanket to school and had tried to share it, but now there was no more room left for him. And that’s when all these fantastic little boys cleared the blanket and spread it out again. They let my son, now with a huge smile on his face, sit in the middle, and then they all sat around him. He couldn’t have been happier, and neither could his friends.
Watching these very young men being decent gives me hope.
Who knows when sweet boys turn aggressive and lose the type of compassion my wife and I witnessed in that classroom today. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if they didn’t? How amazing would our world be if young men never stopped caring about the suffering of others and instead grew up to be empathetic members of society? Those are the guys who when they’re adults would never think of harassing a co-worker, female or male, who would never feel comfortable making those they work with uncomfortable, who know being a bully or a lout is a dead end going nowhere.
That’s our goal for our son.
Boys will be boys, they say, but who’s to say what boys are supposed to be? Men, why can’t we teach our young fellahs to channel their natural aggression and strength in a more positive way, and show them through example how to fight aggressively for fairness, equality, and compassion?
Who knows, some day it might just pay off for the rest of us.
- Mike Lukas
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