April 03, 2017

The forging of men

The day comes in the life of every boy, to break through the stack of boards with one's bare limbs. (Figuratively speaking of course, unless you're a Rupp boy, and then not so figuratively speaking)

The mother's heart, engorged with pride, races like the soundtrack to a Bollywood movie as she watches her boys. Watches them face those boards bravely, fists clenched, chin high.

Young lungs inhale, exhale. Playful mind draws focus.

This is what they've been training for.

And then, one by one, each boy takes his stand. Who will win, his foot bones or the boards? Which one will yield and snap along the grain, admitting defeat?


The boy wins.

Crack. Crack. Crack! The boards are punched and kicked until that whole stack has been reduced to kindling.

Toes redden and swell. Tears roll down determined cheeks (they're just kids, after all.) Some of the boards are stubborn, and the sound of flesh thudding hard against wood makes the mothers cringe. We remember that flesh when it was washed and weighed in the delivery room. We would have killed the fool who tried to hurt those little feet, those little hands.

But mothers know that our boys were meant to be men. And we know, too, that boys don't just wake up one morning and come to the breakfast table as men. Men are forged.

Forged, I tell you.

One board at a time.