Seeing as how I'm only a few short years out of boyhood myself and seeing also my growing little tribe of grandsons, (three on hand and one on the way) I've been doing a lot of thinking about things that all boys need.
It goes without saying that boys need loving families, good friends, etc. etc. (of course, it's beyond dreadfully sad that the biggest percentage of children today are growing up without those most important things) My "four things" are in addition to those "most important things".
Thing 1. A Woods
Every boy needs a woods. When I was a boy my mama could hardly get me up on school mornings. But on Sat., when all the rest of the family liked to sleep in a little later, I would be out of the house soon after daylight, before anybody else was up. I suppose I must have wandered back home for breakfast at some point; although I can't seem to recall that now. Sometimes I would take the binoculars and crawl thru the bushes trying to identify birds. One spring I found a red fox den and would sneak up on my belly unnoticed and wait for the young fox kits to come out and play.
Our neighbor's son George has been living in New York City the last year or so. Now I can't stand cities but I'm actually really thankful for them. Why? Well, since so many people like to crowd up in the cities, it leaves more open space in the country for the rest of us. Anyway, back to George. I heard him awhile back going on about how great it was to live in the city. He said everything you might want or need is just real close by. I asked him what if you needed a woods? "Weeell," he said, "You could always go to the park". I guess that would be better than nuthin.
But a park is everybody in the city's woods. A boy needs a woods of his own. Outfitted with nothing more than his imagination, a boy can spend countless happy hours in a woods. He could be Daniel Boone, Robin Hood or Robinson Crusoe all in the same day without any problem at all.
Thing 2. A Creek
I can't imagine how any boy can grow up properly without spending half of his summer submerged in a creek. One summer we built a small raft and were Huck Finn and Jim on the Mississippi.Somewhere back in the archives is a whole post on this subject entitled "The Old Swimmin' Hole". We spent countless happy hours in the creek. Every boy needs one.
Thing 3. A Bike
It's a sad thing when at an early age a boy gets something that is motorized. You learn so much on a bike. I wonder how many miles we rode our bikes when we were young. We never went far, just around the neighborhood. But our bike was how we got everywhere. To the swimming hole. To the county bookmobile that stopped at the Perrows Chapel parking lot in the summer.
I never had a new bike in my entire life. And funny thing is, I really don't feel that deprived. My bike was a second hand 24" girls bike that I picked up somewhere. Just a single speed with a coaster brake. I painted it a nice gold color and put high rise handlebars on it and a long banana seat. I could "pop a wheelie" and ride with the front wheel off the ground for long distances. It was a very comfortable bike and to this day I feel so sorry for those high tech bikers sitting on those teeny-weeny seats and all hunkered down to reach those low handlebars and peering straight ahead with a terrible kink in their necks.
Thing 4. A Hatchet
Oh man. Hopefully there are no mommies who read this blog or I will be in deep trouble. Mommies are afraid little boys will chop themselves or scalp somebody. I recognize that possiblity, but how is a boy suppose to develop properly without being able to hack things? Plus, he might need some poles for a teepee or a cabin in the woods.
There just seems to be a genetically inborn need for a boy to chop things. There are probably plenty of men today that have glaring character flaws which could more than likely be traced back to not being allowed to chop things when they were boys.
Think about it. When a right-handed boy is chopping something, he is holding his hatchet in his right hand. That is the hand he would miss the most if some of it got chopped off. This is not likely to happen if he's holding it in his right hand. Sure he might hack himself some other place but his most useful hand should be pretty safe.
And if you had to choose, a missing finger here and there would be a small price to pay for a boy who grew up to be a man of character.