Oh My God. That’s my baby boy on the extreme right. Getting ready for his first game. Its one thing to no longer be able to just pick him up in one arm. Its another to realize that he is so close to being a man.
I figured I had one job with my kids: to help them safely to their adulthood. And all I can do there is to teach them the very best things I’ve learned over the course of my life. Over the summer, Jason has really matured–I’m hoping the pressures of high school don’t crack him.
I have to take everything he needs to do and connect it to a long-term goal of his. As he hasn’t really gelled his adult outcomes, I have to be more general, and use Milton Erickson’s pattern, unless and until I get a clear indication of a refinement or healthy aversion.
On a basic biological/social level he needs to learn to care for his body, hunt and gather, satisfy his sexual needs with integrity, create goods and services he can enjoy creating and exchange with his community to support himself and two other people, understand his values and beliefs clearly enough to be a good father and husband, become a contributing member of society on the level of charity and pure giving, age with dignity, and die at peace.
Infinite refinements on that process, but those are good basic safety rails. The single most important thing I’m doing, the “atomic” minimum dose, the mountain I’m prepared to die on, is that five minutes every morning. Checking in, evaluating the previous day’s work, clarifying what needs to be done today. Being sure he knows WHAT to do, WHY he is doing it–in a way that aligns with his own personal goals, and only then turning him loose into the chaos of a school day.
WHAT does he have to do? WHY does he want to do it? Only then going to the HOW.
I wish I could get him in a full-fledged “Morning M.A.G.I.C.” program, moving and chanting at the same time, but he’s not ready for that yet. I’ll be happy with what I can do, slowly asking him to remember all he has to feel grateful for, what his clear intentions today and for a lifetime might be, the strength of his conviction that he can and should accomplish it, and what ACTIONS he is going to take to make it happen.
That’s enough. But one day…one day he will have a goal, and come to me and ask what he can do to maximize his chances of reaching it. This is where Football is hugely more happy-making than Skate Park. The kids at Skate Park tend to be somewhat counter-culture. The smell of pot wafts from the benches nearby. And skating is fun, but dead end for all but a tiny few.
Football is a team sport, so he is associating with young men who are focused on winning as a team, being strong. They have to keep their grades up to play. There is a route to college scholarships for athletes in some sports, and Football is his first introduction to the level of discipline and focus it requires. Those coaches are screaming postive messages while the kids sweat and strain and push–(hey! That’s like the missing piece of the Morning MAGIC program!)
He will experience the focus of a crowd’s attention. Learn to deal with the girls who are attracted to that power, and ask himself what he wants for a life partner, not just a dance partner for a night (ahem). What was the single strongest step I took toward maturation?
Wanting the respect of the men I respected
Wanting to attract the kind of women I was attracted to.
Choose those men and women carefully, and life gets very simple.
This is a good step for my boy. There are downsides, of course, but I’ll keep my eyes open for them. Meanwhile…Summer 2018 goes down in my book as a dividing line between a big boy and a young man. He is on the other side of that divide now. The risks get bigger.
So do the rewards. Time to roll up my sleeves: the work is about to get harder. And a lot more fun.
(if you want to create your own “Morning MAGIC” program, go to: