I sit here with a mixture of excitement and sadness on the eve of my son’s 7th birthday.
It seems like a real turning point – no longer is he a 2-year-old, inclined to push smaller children over or whack someone else from behind the way I watched the 2-year-old boys do at the playground today. At that age, our own son had a habit of pushing over one girl in particular – the daughter of a friend of ours – much to our dismay and embarrasment. We tried to stop him from doing it for what seemed like months with no success. Then, suddenly, it stopped, almost as quickly as it had started, much to our relief but also our puzzlement. Was it just a phase or did he eventually absorb our message? We still don’t know.
Nor is he in those high-testosterone years between 4-7 when boys have the greatest amount of testosterone of their entire lives. Ever more vigorous physical play and a fascination with super heroes and competitiveness surged when he turned four and now in retrospect I realize it has been abating over the past year. Those years were often wild rides but lots of fun too if I was ready for it and willing to run, climb, jump, hide, and generally just move like crazy to keep up with him – and make sure he had lots of opportunities to do the same with others in his life.
No, although still a little boy, he is definately moving into the next phase of his life. And despite the frustration and fatigue of those early years, I feel sad in a way that they are coming to an end.
We have loosely followed the Waldorf philosphy of child-rearing, which calls the age of seven an important turning point in the life of a child. At seven they are ready to learn in a more formalized way and are more focused and logical. And I can see in my son that this seems to be so.
Now I am beginning to look ahead – to the changes and influences that will affect his development in the years to come. Things that alarm and sadden me about boys becoming men in our culture – the loss of their sweetness and innocence and the influence of the mainstream on (negatively) shaping their outlook on life, girls, and women. I read recently in a book about Aboriginal teenage mothers that 70% of boys aged 15-17 in the U.S. had already checked out violent and explicit pornography that is easily accessible on the intenet – giving them a warped idea about the female body and a violent and degrading view of girls and women.
But I don’t want to end this post on a gloomy note because I know there are some wonderful adventures and conversations to come as our son learns more about the world and about himself and his interests take us to new, exciting , and undoubtedly uniquely challenging places.
Happy Birthday to my dear little lad!