Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Boys Need to Be Boys, I Guess

Nathan and I watched Man on Wire recently on Netflix. It was a very interesting and enjoyable movie. I thought it was relatively "clean", although I was disappointed near the end there was a, you know, scene. Oh well. Still very enjoyable.

However, it also kinda scared me. It was interesting when the movie portrayed this guy's childhood and his incessant need to climb things and do riskier and riskier stunts until he finally settled on tight-rope walking. Now I know that this is pretty much inherent in boys. They have to take risks. They have to be dangerous. I've accepted that.

But I have this almost 5-year old boy. Who, while ordinarily a fairly cautious child, has developed a need to climb. He climbs trees. He climbs fences. He would happily climb woodpiles if his Daddy didn't expressly and darkly forbid it.

A couple years ago, Nathan was working on the front porch roof. He turned around just as Jonah's little 2 1/2 year old head peaked up over the edge of the roof.

Ladders. Ladders are the most fun for climbing.

Jonah recently dragged a small ladder over to his playhouse and managed to get it up to the roof so that he can climb up there (maybe 6-8 feet high) and "fix" the roof. Forget playing IN the playhouse. It's way more fun to play ON it. So for the past couple of weeks he's been dragging pieces of wood and electrical conduit and who-knows-what-else up there and having a great old time. I figure this activity is fairly benign and as long as he knows how to climb safely, I can let him have at it.

Yesterday, however, he took it to another level. I noticed him doing "tricks" on his ladder. The one that particularly made my heart skip a beat was when he walked down on his hands. Head first. Aieee...

I've always thought my Dad --who's quite safety-oriented-- is very good at allowing risky behavior in kids as long as they are willing to learn how to do it safely. I need to tear a page out of his book for this kid, I'm thinkin'.

I just hope this kid doesn't go so far as to balance on suspended wires between buildings for his needed thrill...


  1. Oh come on, you should embrace his sudden interest in risky thrills. I came out okay.

    Wouldn't it someday make you proud to watch your son on tv walking a tightrope?

  2. Seth-- I don't think you can say that, yet. Sometimes I think I'll be shocked if you and our other brothers live to ripe old ages.

    As for watching him on a tightrope... Um, no.

    The level of obsession of that guy in the movie is... disturbing. I'm thinking there are more fruitful ways to spend a life.

  3. I really found Philippe Petit's level of obsession pretty interesting. The guy is raving, almost lunatic in his descriptions and memories of the preparations and fruition of his quest. To me, he's a guy I'd love to sit down and have a beer with.

    Regarding risk in manly stuff: it's all about the bragging rights. Pain fades, injuries heal, but glory is forever.

  4. PS Seth, Rules change once you have kids, even if you swear they wont