tonight, as i sat in my sunroom writing, reading, researching…listening to the music of the rain in the skylights and surrounding deck, my revelry was suddenly interrupted by the laughter of boys, loud and raucous voices and the peppering of toy guns disturbed nature’s symphony. as i turned to shut the window, perturbed that my haven had been invaded, i heard one of the voices more clearly, and realized it was my son’s voice. as my ears perked up, i heard the beginnings of an interchange between him and a few of his buddies, they had his air soft guns (modified paintball type using air propelled non injuring pellets) and were playing ‘cops and robbers’! Now, whether or not you agree with guns for toys, is not the issue here, (my son is 141/2 and has air soft guns, and i have a great deal of ambivalence on the subject). For a moment they were suspended in time, between the cowboy hats of younger years and the car keys awaiting just around the corner.
What struck me was the sound of boy-man voices cracking in their quest to deepen, as these guys played a childhood game, with their long gangly arms and legs, waiting for their torsos and weight to catch up, with toy guns (which are not toys and not for boys in real life) and ran around the back yard like kids!
That is what they are after all…kids. Inside those middle school bodies, headed off to high school next year, looking forward to freshman football, anticipating getting their licenses, dreaming about their ideal car…they are boys…not quite young and not yet men. This is the in-between when they are both/and struggling to become and to leave behind.
I stopped all that i was doing, except for listening to them, for a few moments i heard and saw a former side of my son as he laughed, played, ran, strategized and ‘fought’ with his friends…and in a strange and ironic way, this game of guns was a return to innocence for these boys this rainy evening. i fear that this type of freedom ends too soon, that growing up and being cool, fitting in and towing the line quickly kills and/or silences these playful parts that make life bearable.
i hope he remembers this night, long into his adulthood, and that he remembers it well enough to repeat it many times over in different forms and places in the coming years…