I wonder if I need to point this travel advisory out to my wife in advance of our packing for our trip to San Francisco. Not that she tends to overpack mind you. I just find it hard to fit six or seven steamer trunks into a rental car.
My daughter returned home from university. And, she will be home all summer. I remember how difficult it was for me to leave her at university last fall. I had so many concerns and a sense that somehow I was abandoning her.
She has done so well. Her faith is strong. She has developed a wide network of friends. She has matured as a person.
I am really proud of her.
Later today, my son and I will begin our journey south to the Masters. A father and son road trip. Should be a lot of fun. I am way out of my comfort zone as the only hotel I have booked is the one near Augusta. I’ve never travelled down this series of Interstates and, aside from the Masters, we have no other firm plans except that we will need to turn around and drive back. I’ll do up a photo journal of the journey and post as I am able over the next few days.
My son is doing an assignment on human nature. From a feminist perspective. He showed me some of his research and I reproduce it here for your understanding of the depth and breadth of thought from our younger generation. Our future leaders. I weep for the future.
- Learn to work the toilet seat. You’re a big girl. If it’s up, put it down. We need it up, you need it down. You don’t hear us complaining about you leaving it down.
- Sunday sports. It’s like the full moon or the changing of the tides. Let it be.
- Shopping is NOT a sport. And no, we are never going to think of it that way.
- Crying is blackmail.
- Ask for what you want. Let us be clear on this one: Subtle hints do not work! Strong hints do not work! Obvious hints do not work! Just say it!
- Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.
- Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That’s what we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.
- A headache that lasts for 17 months is a problem. See a doctor.
- Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument. In fact, all comments become null and void after 7 days.
- If you won’t dress like the Victoria’s Secret girls, don’t expect us to act like soap opera guys.
- If you think you’re fat, you probably are. Don’t ask us.
- If something we said can be interpreted two ways and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.
- You can either ask us to do something or tell us how you want it done. Not both. If you already know best how to do it, just do it yourself.
- Whenever possible, please say whatever you have to say during commercials.
- Christopher Columbus did not need directions and neither do we.
- ALL men see in only 16 colors, like windows default settings. Peach, for example, is a fruit, not a color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea what mauve is.
- If it itches, it will be scratched. We do that.
- If we ask what is wrong and you say “nothing,” we will act like nothing’s wrong. We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the hassle.
- If you ask a question you don’t want an answer to, expect an answer you don’t want to hear.
- When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine… Really.
- Don’t ask us what we’re thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as baseball, the shotgun formation, or monster trucks.
- You have enough clothes.
- You have too many shoes.
- I am in shape. Round is a shape.
- Thank you for reading this. Yes, I know, I have to sleep on the couch tonight; but did you know men really don’t mind that? It’s like camping.
I read an article by Rex Stoessiger and I must admit it caused me to think deeply about the quality of my parenting to my children and to my sons in particular. As a parent, I have been concerned about the increasing media representation of men as dopes and as violent, self-obsessed brutes.
What have I been doing to model appropriate patterns for my own sons? Likely not enough. Here is an excerpt from Stoessiger’s article:
An important issue for most men and a crucial one for boys’ education is the lack of fathering in current society. This is something that Steve Biddulph talks about in Manhood where he draws on the work of Robert Bly to illustrate the importance of father-son relationships in male development.
He points to the effects of the industrial revolution which meant that fathers and sons, who used to work together in the fields, were now together for only small amounts of time, usually after a hard working day when both were tired. This means that boys see only very limited aspects of masculinity, not the full range of male behaviour.
Today the separation is possibly even more rigid. Men are off in factories or offices and boys are at school for longer and longer periods. In primary schools about 80 percent of the staff are women. Many boys, and girls, go through eight years of primary education without a male teacher. In such a world, how do boys learn to be male?
Construction of Masculinity
With fathers physically and emotionally separated from sons it’s harder to learn what it means to be male. But in our society all boys have to grow up to be men. There isn’t a choice. Boys will learn their masculinity one way or another.
In present day society there are three obvious ways for boys to learn masculinity. And all three are dangerous.
First, boys commonly learn about masculinity from the media. Boys typically see much, much more television than they see of their fathers. But the models of masculinity displayed on television are either ultra-competitive sportsmen, violent men or dopes; not much to choose from.
The second source of models of masculinity comes from the peer group. Young men spend much more time with males of similar ages than with adult men. In peer groups it’s the most aggressive and violent male who calls the shots and ends up providing the example of “successful” masculinity.
The third way young men currently learn their masculinity is by reaction. Bad as the other two methods are, this is potentially worse. If you can’t learn about masculinity from men because at home and school you are largely surrounded by women then it becomes straightforward to interpret masculine as “not-female”. The particular dangers of constructing masculinity in this way are the very limited range of behaviours that come to be accepted as male and the anti-female attitudes that are likely to develop.
My wife and I celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary yesterday at the Fairmont Royal York in downtown Toronto. The hotel was very thoughtful in all of the details from an anniversary card right down to the chocolate-covered strawberries in our room.
We watched Clint Eastwood’s film Million Dollar Baby. What a surprising film. Part Rocky and part Terms of Endearment. We browsed through some of the Yorkville shops and made our way back downtown and enjoyed a nice meal at one of the local restaurants near the hotel.
And, as we enjoyed the time together, I thought about how fortunate I was to find my wife and to have such a wonderful family. I am a very lucky man.