Military

Crazy SoaB Detour

On Wednesday, I had some coffee at Shari’s while I typed up my WIP and situated myself. I was setting out my goals for the day and the rest of the second week of school. During my visit here, I saw a older gentleman in a Vietnam Veteran hat sitting in another booth and took to watching him. Most veterans notice other veterans.

He looked despondent; a sad countenance about him as he kept putting his head down on the table throughout the course of drinking his coffee. He was, quite obviously, homeless. He had rough clothes on, a scarce shave and several bags on top of a suitcase with wheels. He was a large man, standing well over 6 foot tall but he was not sitting as a big, solid man would. He seemed to have been beaten down and was visibly shrinking into his skin as I watched.

At one point, I had convinced myself that I had the extra funds to pay for his coffee. It was only right – it was the thing I needed to do on this beautiful Wednesday in my life when things were looking up and there were very few worries. When I had finally got the nerve to go up to the counter and let the waitress know what I was going to do, he had already gone. An opportunity to bless someone else as I have been repeatedly blessed was gone.

I went back to my seat and finished what I was doing. I researched a recipe a friend had posted and got ready to go home and try it. I would stop at the store for only one ingredient I was missing. My goal was to surprise my friend with making the recipe he had admired. With all my things packed up, I set out the door. I didn’t even stay long enough to eat. I only spent money on coffee while typing in my blog and looking at pictures; I figured I could eat something at home while baking this new recipe.

As I climbed into my car, I was thankful for the vehicle I was driving. It might be a family joke; working only randomly and when it wanted to. However, it was still a vehicle to take me to a warm home and back out again. I started to drive home and saw the same man on the side of a gas station. He was wandering back and forth, with no apparent goal. Pulling over, I risked life and limb and asked, “Do you need a ride?”

A little shocked, he said, “Yes. I am trying to get to the local thrift store for new jeans and then over to the truck stop.”

After only a half of a moment, I said, “I need jeans for my boys. I’ll head to the thrift store today. Let’s go.”

He paused at the back of my vehicle for a moment as I watched him walk around the vehicle. He put his stuff in the back seat and then climbed in the front. Because I am not a stupid woman, I moved my small wallet with my little bit of money in it to my door pocket and started off. He was so large in such a small space. Normally, I think of Rendy as plenty roomy enough; with this man in the passenger seat, there was no room left to breathe!

We made casual conversation on the way to the thrift store. He had seen my license plate and asked who the veteran was, me or my husband. I replied that I was and did not correct him that I was a single mother. The conversation was pleasant and he was talkative.

On arrival at the thrift store, he made mention that, “At least I have a nice vehicle.” I started laughing and said, “Oh, no. It’s not. When it runs, it is great. It just doesn’t like to run.” He got a laugh out of that and we went in; him to look for jeans and me to look for pants for my boys. Whenever he moved to another section of the store, he made sure to let me know where he was going and would be “right back.”

I found one pair of jeans that might fit my younger son but quite a few cute shirts. I took them to the register and he was right behind me – this man that was easily twice my size in height and width! He had found one pair of jeans for himself. As we walked out, Jen called me. She was done what she was doing and wondering where I was and what I was doing. I asked her to grab a couple of the dollars I had sitting at home and meet up with me at another thrift store. I told my passenger that I knew of two other thrift stores that we could stop by before taking him to the truck stop and we set off.

We found nothing of any great worth at the two thrift stores and we had Jen shadowing us as we went on our errands. He seemed to enjoy the conversation and it quickly became a warm little friendship brewing. Each of us knew this budding friendship was a blip in the radar of our daily lives but the mutual military background had taught us well: enjoy the company while it lasts.

By this point, I was starving and I suggested we head over to the truck stop and get lunch. I offered to pay for lunch and he swore that he had already eaten at Shari’s. I didn’t want to call him a liar but I had never seen the waitress bring him any food. I let it go and just said I’d pay for coffee, then.

On arrival, he excused himself (most politely) to the bathroom for quite some time. It was during this time that I asked Jen to go sneak a $20 in his bags; they were still in the back of the Rendy. She came back and said, “It was hard. He has locks on all the zippers. I squeezed it into one tiny space, though.” She then asked, “How could you know he wouldn’t hurt you when you picked him up?”

I answered frankly and without reservation, “He’s a Vietnam Veteran. He’s the craziest son of a bitch you’ll ever meet. But, he’d never hurt a woman.” I then couched that with, “Ok, well, most of them wouldn’t.” She laughed and with not another word, we ordered our food and set to filling empty bellies.

He came back and drank his coffee, politely taking the onion rings I had no room for and then the lettuce, tomato and pickles left over from the making of my sandwich. At this point, I was certain he was lying about eating at Shari’s. I wasn’t about to call him on his lies, though. It’s his business and pride, not mine.

When we were all done and about to head out, it was decided that we’d take him to the Army Surplus Store and the truck stop next to it; a good 10 miles from town or so. Wandering around the Army Surplus Store was uneventful (but fun) and we dropped him at the truck stop with a handshake and a “Good luck!”

It was an afternoon wasted, by the standards of the things I needed to get done. However, it was an afternoon that, hopefully, brought a little smile to the face of one that is being destroyed by life and all of life’s choices gone wrong. He told many stories and I’m not sure exactly how many to believe. The point is, regardless, he needed a little human courtesy and it was given to him by Jen and I for one day.

I went home, made the recipe my friend was talking about on his Facebook and Jen delivered it to his job when she dropped the boys off at church. My friend thought it was the best thing ever and thanked me repeatedly. Although that was very warming to my heart, it can’t compare to the handshake from a Veteran down on his luck and needing someone to acknowledge him. Dare I say, his back was a little straighter when he walked away from our car?

Crazy as I may be for picking up a hitchhiker, I’m glad I did it.

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Categories: Military, Socializing | 2 Comments

Raising Men

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Please forgive some of the following pictures. They were taken with a cell phone. However, what I want you to notice is the intense concentration on Brendan’s face and the curiosity on Caiden’s. This picture was taken two years ago. It perfectly captures the natural curiosity of boys.

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Boys are quite simple to please. Give them a mound of dirt or …

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some water to splash in and their life is complete. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to accomplish this, either.

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Do you see that smile!?

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A couple dollars at the local gas station for a little Styrofoam cup full of blood worms will entertain them for hours (or until the worms die, anyway).

Where am I going with this? Quite frankly, I am taking a stand on what it means to “Raise Men.” I rarely take a stand on things on my blog. I’d rather not get into a pissing contest with someone who may not share my viewpoint. I am, this time.

To raise a man means to let him start by being a boy. What is a boy, though?

A boy:

  • loves dirt
  • loves animals
  • is messy
  • is rarely still
  • is rough
  • wants to be a super hero – forever
  • wants their dad to be Superman
  • is exhausting
  • is a daredevil
  • is fun

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There is so much more I could add to the list. However, that’s a great list to start from. Not only do they love dirt, they don’t mind being dirty. When Brendan was small, he did not like his hands dirty. As he develops his boyish personality, he is starting to love the idea of being as messy as possible. Not as messy as Caiden, of course, but he does hold his own with his brother!

“Every man was once a boy.  And every little has dreams, big dreams,  dreams of being the hero, of beating the bad guys, of doing daring feats and rescuing the damsel in distress.”

That’s the opening description of a book called “Wild at Heart.” In this book, it discusses how boys need to be boys in order to grow into healthy men. Letting a boy play “Cops and Robbers” or “Cowboys and Indians” is a part of the natural order of growing up. If we didn’t have little boys that grew into men that knew how to protect and provide, where would we be as a people? It was the men who figured out they could kill an animal and eat it for sustenance.

We’ve all heard the comment about the caveman who nailed his chosen mate on the head with a club so he could drag her back to his cave. In all reality, isn’t it a bit hard to go home with a man that can’t take care of himself? If we see that he can’t feed himself, clothe himself, keep himself clean to some degree, are we more or less likely to take him as a mate? If we find someone who earns a living, brings home the proverbial bacon and can, to a certain extent, protect us, doesn’t that trigger our woman’s heart much quicker?

Think Superman versus Spongebob. Which would you rather take home? The man or the boy in a diaper?

A quick search showed this:

“In a Rut – Breeding Season Behaviors in Deer

“There are several behaviors associated with the rut. Rutting behavior typically begins around the time that velvet is shed from the antlers (coinciding with decreasing day length and increasing testosterone levels) and ends when antlers are shed (coinciding with declining testosterone levels). The first sign of rutting behavior is often sparring among bucks. Sparring may take place between bucks of equal stature or between a dominant and subordinate buck. Initially, these are usually short-lived, low intensity, pushing and shoving matches. These sparring matches may help establish the dominance hierarchy among males. As the peak of the breeding season approaches, sparring matches may give way to full-blown antler fights. These generally take place between bucks of similar hierarchical status.”

What is my point in sharing this? Simple! We want a man who played as a boy and learned what it is to be a man – a provider, a hunter and gatherer, someone who can beat back the masses that might threaten us and our family.

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Remember this picture? Caiden was pretending to work on a plane (his bed was the F-14 Tomcat). He is learning how to take care of things. Fixing and making sure they work right. He was very intent on his task.

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This progressed to helping Matthew fix our car. When we were driving through the bumps on Bishop Mountain, we broke the tabs that hold the bottom plastic on the car. This plastic keeps most of the rocks and dust from getting into the sensitive areas of the car. Caiden and Brendan showed Matthew what was wrong and then helped him fix it up. Part of growing up. Learning. Taking care of their own property.

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Caiden again. This time, he’s learning how to run the grill. In my house, I do not run the grill. First, I’m scared witless of the loud *whoosh* when you light it. Secondly, that’s the man’s job. I don’t need to prove myself to anyone and cook on the grill. If I wanted to, I would. It’s not my job, though! Let the men do that. It’s outdoor work. It’s part of their providing for the family.

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How about this picture? Brendan was trying to be “just like daddy” and eat the entire piece of watermelon. He did and he was no worse for his efforts. It’s part of being a boy and growing up. My job is to try and minimize the damage of whatever they may try to do and get into. That’s all.

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The last time we went to Yellowstone, my boys were fascinated looking for the badger in his hole. Brendan even decided he was going to climb in there and find him. Of course, as a mother, I stopped him. I used my status as mother to teach him it might not be a good idea to make a badger angry – they have sharp claws.

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Did I stop him from being curious? Nope. I let them stare into the hole for awhile, hoping to see the badger without making him angry.

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“What a disgusting thing to let your child do! That is the trash can!”

So? It’s our trash. We put it in there. Chances are, it was emptied the night before and there isn’t much left. My son is attempting to impress his mother with how strong he is. He can carry the trash can! Why would I rip him down and force him to not show off? He’s like a deer in rut, proving his manhood.

He’s still a little young to understand but that’s exactly what he is doing when he does this. He’s a boy growing into a man. It’ll be a few years yet before he gets there, of course. My job is to help him get there.

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A few weeks back, a friend and I were talking. Mostly, we were talking about my petrifying fear of my children getting hurt on a play set. Be it swings, slides or a jungle gym, I could not (would not) watch them play. They get too rough. They enjoy being too much of a daredevil. Rational or irrational, I couldn’t do it. I usually leave the back yard or send Jen with them to the park so they could play as boys without scaring years off my life.

This day, the day of the picture above, I went home and watched them being crazy on the swings as long as I could stand it. They did not get hurt that day. It doesn’t stop my fear but it did make me realize – I have to let them do the boyish things as much as I can. Otherwise, I might raise up some petrified wimpy men.

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When I was younger, one of my brothers did find a tree he could climb and tried it. He did fall out of the tree, and, according to my parents, hit every branch on the way down. He didn’t die. He didn’t snap his neck. He didn’t break any bones. I’m quite sure he was sore for awhile. My parents let him be a boy. Eventually, my son will find a tree he can climb and he will climb it. I have to let him. I have to hope (and trust in God) that my boy will emerge from that future experience unscathed.

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Play between boys develops teamwork. A log they have no business trying to move but they are working together. Teamwork skills developing. Just like when they play act they are cops with their little toy guns, chasing the imaginary bad guys through the yard (or the woods of Bishop Mountain). Yes. I have purchased little toy guns for them. They are children of military parents and offspring of a family of hunters (on both sides). They will handle weapons when they get older. Let them play and learn (mostly safe) ways of doing so at this young age.

A great example for my babies is Batman. Have you ever seen Batman kill anyone? No. He arrests them and throws them in jail. When they play, I stress shooting them in the leg and arresting them. Not killing.

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Goofy, silly boys. But, boys they are.

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Shooting each other with the water hose, trying to drown each other.

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Playing “keep away” with Matthew. Tagging him on the butt (spanking him, really) and running before they get caught. Part of boy play. If you want to get psychological with it, it helps with sneaking, teamwork, quickness and thinking ahead (how to get away).

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My son running up to the ladies of Virginia City to tell them that they are “beautiful.”

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My boys. Soon to be men. Hopefully, men to be proud of. Not bored with a “calm, safe” life but full of life and enjoying everything it has to offer – while still being a man in regards to women and children. All body parts intact and knowing how to play and have fun without going too far.

That’s my 2cp (as we used to say in EverQuest).

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A couple good articles:

Raising Boys

The following quote can be found here. I agree completely!

“In my opinion, the basic problem we have in marriages today is a feminine disdain for masculinity and a refusal of males to rise to the occasion and act like strong men, not “wussies” afraid of their women.  We need them to embrace honor, duty, valor and integrity.  Instead we have at least two generations of boys raised to be male-looking girls.”

Categories: Family, Military | 7 Comments

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