By Vanessa Gobes
Men completely baffle me. No offense, guys. As a gender, you’re real go-getters – strong, handsome, and a very necessary component in procreation. But honestly, between the insatiable need for power (be it in the form of money, attention, strength, or remote control handling) and the twisted inclination towards professional wrestling, porn and realistically bloody video games, I can’t decide if I should run away from you screaming in terror or just move into a lesbian commune and wash my hands of you entirely.
I’ve spent quite a bit of time lately thinking about men. Young men. Well, boys really. I’m rearing one currently. He’s four, the caboose on a train of three older girls. Generally, he’s very sensitive and sweet. He cares about people and animals. He articulates his feelings and is well-behaved. At least I think he’s all of those things… until he finds a stick on our post-winter lawn and immediately begins whacking the dog with it. Then imagines that stick as weapon and fires it dramatically at his sisters who are chalking quietly in the driveway.
There are more boyish antics, of course. The tasmanian-devil-style thrashing he displays for what seems to be no reason at all. The make-pretend enactments of a werewolf mauling a honey badger in the forbidden forest. The wet sponge ambushes on his sisters at bedtime as they brush their teeth.
I never taught him these things. I’m pretty sure my husband didn’t either. We don’t initiate or encourage this type of play. But he’s a boy. And he seems naturally wired for bursts of destruction.
This is no excuse. Absolutely not. I refuse to lie down and say, “Boys will be boys.” I’m fighting this overused saying, not with my sharp claws or stick weapons, but with kindness, discipline and love.
I’ve also enlisted my daughters to teach our wild little wolf cub how to become a respectable human being since girls seem to enter life with more compassionate tendencies. It’s not a hard lesson, really, this lesson in compassion. But it needs to be taught daily. Daily. Daily. Daily.
This past weekend I had 7 kids here for a sleepover. We watched Indiana Jones. During the blood and guts portions, they watched unfazed. But when Indy started making out with his leading lady, the kids all belted out, “Eeeeewwww!!! Disgusting! Hide your eyes!”
I was appalled, “You little turkeys mean to say you’ll watch happily as bloody monkey brains are served for dinner but Doctor Jones planting a kiss on his girlfriend makes you want to throw up? Come on! Love is beautiful and natural. Hurting people is ‘eeeeewwwww.’ Get your priorities straight, small people!”
Whether or not my words hit home, I’m unsure. My intent, however, is always deeper than a 30 second lecture at a sleepover party, or even a 500 word essay on mothering a typical boy.
Mothers of boys have a precious opportunity to co-create and inspire young boys who become compassionate and mindful men. There are no other more important qualities for a man to possess. When all actions, all intentions, all thoughts are created with mindful compassion, humans will be on our way to world peace. And we mothers are 100% responsible for instilling this quality in our sons.
The end of sex-trafficking? The solution to corporate greed? The dissolution of hate crimes? The pacification of violence? This can all happen through compassion.
We spend so much time trying to fix the problems we have. Counsel the women who have been exploited. Mend the planet that has been ravaged. Heal the people who have been pained. Why not skip the pain and spend that time nurturing boys who value love over destruction?
No four-year-old boy thinks, “When I grow up, I want to pimp out 14 year old girls… Or maybe I’ll be a bigot… Or a banker who invests in companies that rape our planet of resources… Or maybe a dictator who stockpiles nuclear weapons.” I know mine doesn’t anyway. So while they’re young, and while we mommies have control, let’s teach our boys how to love a woman, how to love a planet, how to love their enemies. The world will thank us for it in 30 years or so.
Originally published on Vanessa’s personal blog, Bringing Up Buddhas.
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Vanessa Gobes is a full time house frau and jane of all trades. She’s currently blogging her way to awakening through a steady diet of kindness, compassion and mindfulness – considering herself not quite Buddhist, but Bu-curious. Her current intent is to work on infusing a daily morning meditation routine into each public school in her town. Vanessa is a community activista, philanthropista and newspaper columnista in Winchester, Massachusetts. Read her stories at www.bringingupbuddhas.com