Pre-teen boys

21 04 2008

What is more unpromising-looking than an eleven-year-old boy? I suppose that seems a cruel statement, but I was pondering this last night while I was folding laundry. The Phillip’s came with their ministry “Miracle Parenting” to our church a few years ago, and they commented on twelve-year-old boys. “These movies where a twelve-year-old boy saves the world really get to me,” he said. “We HAVE a twelve-year-old boy, and I want to tell you, he can hardly use silverware! He can’t put on matching socks! Save the world. Yeah, right.”

I love my pre-teen boy. I see a lot of potential in him, and I see a lot of growth from last year. But I’d have to agree with the Philip’s. The only reason he can put on matching socks is because I bought him a bunch of new ones and threw out all the old unmatched ones. He was quite often seen with one long and one short sock. He walks in the door and throws everything down on the floor. He will walk right over breaking toys and tearing books in his giant, size eleven hiking boots. He can’t keep his pants up or his shirt down. He doesn’t brush his teeth. He eats too much candy and gets too little exercise. He has NO idea where his homework is, where his scout shirt is, where his shoes are, or what I asked him to do five minutes ago. He doesn’t know WHY he sprayed his father’s shaving gel all down in the toilet, he just did.

At the moment, when I look at him, I wonder if he will ever be able to care for himself enough to leave home. Will he be able to do laundry, or will he just pull clothes out of the heap on the floor? What on earth will he eat? Will he ever brush his teeth or flush the toilet without being reminded? Will he ever stop scratching mosquito bites until they bleed on all the furniture? What will he do if he goes away to college and can’t find his shoes, because right now he is practically incapable of finding anything.

Yesterday the teen dance & drama team performed at our church. There are nearly as many boys as girls, ranging in age from fifteen to nearly twenty. I was watching those boys. They show such power, such grace, such passion… my heart was broken and I found myself praying that my daughter would be blessed with a man like that. Then I looked at my eleven-year-old son and I asked myself, in five years, will Donal be like that? Will there be some transformation that will give him confidence, cause him to stand up straight and start washing his face?

I have seen the boys in Donal’s scout troop and they are all more or less like him. So there must be something that happens that turns them from scatter-brained boys to the men that I see around me building, protecting, judging, establishing, creating and ruling. The seeds of greatness lie within them. They lie within Donal. I can see them when he talks about things he’s passionate about. He’s preparing a speech on bioluminesence. He follows me around telling me that they now use the glowing chemicals from fire fleas to help diagnose heart defects and all sorts of marvelous things I never knew. Sometimes it touches my heart to hear him pray. He’s reading Romans for the first time right now, and each new thing he learns is a great AHA! discovery to him. The world is opening up before him, and he is so excited about everything he learns.

In there, somewhere, is a great man trying to get out. If I can just be patient. If I can be diligent, awaiting the day. If I can avoid clobbering him and crushing his spirit over all the silly things he forgets to do, someday Donal is going to be amazing.




One response

21 04 2008

This is a really nice article. It gives me hope that someday Gregory will also grow into a young man. Those years of transition must be like the chaos that goes on inside a cocoon where the caterpillar changes to the butterfly. It’s probably not a pretty sight inside the cocoon of metamorphosis, but the end product is well worth it. For now, we wait and hope and endure. ~Lisa

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