Parenting

A One Year Old Boy

The boy turned one this weekend. One whole year in which we managed to not kill and/or seriously wound our offspring.

As he grows older he becomes ever his own person, growing and showing hints of the man he will one day become.

That man will, based on current indicators, be a psychotic being of pure energy intent on the destruction of everything around him. Although to be fair this large scale carnage will be interspersed with occasional but meaningful hugs as and when he bangs his head.

The boy is a boy; he loves being thrown around and hung from his ankles. I often stand him on the bed and rugby tackle him (gently, I don’t go all Courtney Lawes on him) to gales of laughter. The other day I was sat cross-legged on the floor reading him a book and after a brief run-up he did the same to me.

I honestly think there is little to match the pure gleeful, giggle of a baby as they shoulder barge their dad.

I think this rough and tumble is important to him realising his physicality and how he interacts with the world around him, it also uses up some of the several million gigajoules of energy he is gifted with.

When thinking about this post I wondered if I should even write it. Would it be met with cries of how bad a father I was, teaching my son to be aggressive when he was so young and that it just reinforces the stereotype of maleness. Honestly, if I had a daughter I would do the same.

Underlining my concern in generating this response is an awareness of how society seems intent on ensuring that everything is so safe that it couldn’t possibly harm anyone. A recent BBC article said that rugby was too dangerous to encourage school children to play. At the same time we are facing a self-made obesity crisis that is killing us slowly.

The upshot of this is that all rough play is considered negative in every context.

When I was at school, if you were caught fighting you were summoned to the headteachers office, given a stern talking to made to shake hands with the person you had been fighting and then sent back to lessons. On the walk back to class, you and your erstwhile enemy complimented each other on particularly successful moves.

Your parents would hear about it if: a) someone got properly hurt, b) it was because of bullying or c) it was a recurring pattern of behaviour.

Now as soon as anyone pushes anyone, it’s all suspensions and parental meetings and discussions about controlling their unchained anger.

I honestly believe that there is an inherent desire in boys to be physical in a way that mimics aggression.

I first suspected that this was intrinsic to the very concept of maleness when I was smoking a cigarette outside of a shop in a tiny village just outside of Longido, Tanzania.

The lighter I lit my cigarette with was a butane, jet thingy that fired out a blue flame like a miniature after-burner. Ideal for starting major forest fires or undertaking a spot of welding.

My lighter caught the attention of two young Massai tribesmen who wondered over and gestured to look at it. The holes in their ear lobes were starting to grow but had yet reached the massive dangle of the older warriors. Their twin ended spears (one end a sword-like blade, the other a sharp metal point) were casually slung over their shoulders. They must have been around sixteen.

I handed the lighter over. The guy I gave it to flicked it open and started it up. He brushed his finger over the flame and let out a yelp and laughed. His friend laughed. I laughed.

He then turned to his friend and laughing, tried to light the end of his friend’s traditional red and black robe.

The friend ran away tittering as he did so and I witnessed them chase each other around a dusty car park, reused tyre sandals flip-floping as they went, trying to burn one another with a butane jet lighter.

This playful act of potentially serious bodily harm, of mimicked aggression, bonds men together in ways that are difficult to put down in words.

We mimic aggression in other ways, in the sports we play or cheer on for example, or in the video games to choose to download. We use these avenues as a cathartic release for aggressive tendencies in ways that are not socially destructive.

So I continue to gently play fight my son, setting boundaries on that aggression as he ages, to show him that being aggressive in itself is not a problem. It is a problem when being aggressive towards someone who is in a position if weakness, or at moments where aggression is unwarranted, or when aggression is caused by blind rage.

These are the lessons I want him to learn as the years go by.

 

 

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11 thoughts on “A One Year Old Boy

  1. Good post and I so agree with you! This need to protect our kids from, well being kids, is prevalent here in the U.S. too and it’s gotten pretty ridiculous with parents being arrested for letting their kids walk home from school and such. And boys are aggressive and it’s stupid to deny this. Good for you for being a smart dad in realizing this is normal and and giving him healthy ways to release it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, I think we run the risk of abnormalising normal behaviours.

      I worry that without knowing aggression in a controlled way it can become uncontrolled.

      Yeah, the fear of kids getting hurt is preventing them from learning how to deal with risks. Unfortunately the world isn’t a safe place.

      Thanks for popping over to my corner of the internet 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I tend to agree. A line has to be drawn somewhere but it feels we have become so sensitive to any kind of physicality – perhaps driven to some degree by fear of litigation? – that even a healthy degree of what one might call ‘joshing’ is now frowned upon. I’ve engaged in play-fighting with all three of our kids (even our daughter) and they each understand the difference between play and real fighting. For them it is just part of being a child (not just a boy) and I’m fine with that. Kids should be permitted to just be kids sometimes.

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    • I couldn’t agree more – I think that we obsess over ensuring that children are bound by the same rules as adults forgetting that they are not. It happens in education a lot where we instil an adult approach to work and long term planning when they just need to be running around with a football.

      If I had a daughter I would now doubt do the same.

      Cheers mate

      Like

  3. Happy Birthday Andy’s offspring! He’s a Taurus, like me, so he’s bound to be brilliant, etc, etc. Hahahar. Oh, right, fighting and aggression. *ahem* Methinks we’ve all run amok in our political correctness and paranoia these days…

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    • Yep! It’s funny how the world is a safer place than it has ever been but fear of children being hurt or hurting others is at an all time high. I’m far more concerned about digital social interactions and the risk children run with those. Sexting is becoming a major issue in children who are too young to truly understand, and yet the systems don’t seem to be in place to deal with it.

      Like

  4. ” in which we managed to not kill and/or seriously wound our offspring” – I so, completely, totally get this. We have managed to raise our oldest to 12 and are still in awe that we’ve got this far without serious maiming, loss of limb(s) or death, although our sanity is most definitely being challenged. First visit to your blog – you have a new follower.

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    • Thanks for stopping by and the kind words about my humble little corner of the internet. I remember saying to my father-in-law a number of months ago that if we got to the end of the day and the boy was still alive we considered that day a success.

      He did suggest that this was a quite low threshold for parental achievement but I stand by it…

      Cheers for the follow 🙂

      Like

  5. Pingback: Wide-Eyed Wonder | tastehitch

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