The boy cometh.
I have to admit that I have fears about raising a boy. Sure, I have worries about my girls, too… but I am a male. I know something about being a boy. Perhaps in some sense the otherness of girls is a comfort, or a kind of blessed distance. And I just don’t think of females as the ones creating epic problems – starting wars, hurting others, crafting systems of denial, demagoguing themselves into power… that is all stuff that men do naturally and perennially.
And so that scares me. Am I up to instilling something true and real and deep in this little guy? Can I give him the transcendent perspective that helped me? Can I encourage him to learn the lessons only his mom and big sisters can teach? God knows I needed the presence of my mom and sisters and wife and mother-in-law and daughters to temper me, transform me, change me from a yell-happy dolt to someone with a bit more self control and thoughtfulness. The process is forever ongoing, and it’s all a matter of grace that it has worked at all. It’s taken me 37 years to be halfway acceptable as a human and it terrifies me to think I’ll be responsible to make a man of someone else. If I can’t force it to happen in myself, I certainly can’t manufacture it in anyone else.
Of course, it won’t be all my job, thank Jesus. But I’m wary of the process.
And so it’s important to name well. To cast a vision with that name. To use that name as a witness and a source of power. I’ll think about our son’s namesake right now to quell some of these fears. I’ll speak his name as a prayer of hope and a charge of confidence. Atticus:
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
“The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”
“Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand. It’s knowing you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”
“There’s a lot of ugly things in this world, son. I wish I could keep ’em all away from you. That’s never possible.”
The quotes above were spoken by Atticus Finch. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee