Have You Met My Sons?
My husband and I have seven sons. They are all extremely active. Not one of them will back down from a challenge, (neither, for that matter, will our two daughters). They view any obstacle as something to be gotten around, through, or over. If the sign on the gate says ‘closed’, clearly that means there is no choice but to go over the wall or fence.
Not everyone is so blessed. Not everyone understands this mind set. I don’t claim to understand it. I do recognize it exists. To date, I have not featured one specific incident from my sons lives in either of the books. At least not knowingly, perhaps they HAVE had an occasion to run ahead of a bull, or shoot Beebe guns at one another. I have yet to hear about it if it is the case. It is their attitude, their outlook on life, that I have tried to convey in some of the characters.
Gwen likes to question this. Her comments come back. “Would a guy lift his wife over his shoulder like that?” “How old are these boys? Throwing stones and banging sticks against trees?” “That is just mean to shoot a dog with a Beebe gun.”
Gwen keeps me honest. When she doubts that boys/men would behave in the manner I have portrayed. I could say, ‘Have you met my sons?’ The first time I sent her a picture. Since then I have realized that if she isn’t buying the behavior other readers might not also. She forces me to convince the reader, lead up to the incident and show it is reasonable to expect the action. Recently she sent me this comment.
The only part I thought didn’t fit was regarding Rob and Paul on their walk to school. “They threw rocks and banged sticks against tree trunks.” How old are Rob and Paul? Are they too old for doing what I always thought was grade-school stuff? This especially contrasts with the statement that comes shortly before it about “the boys deep voices”.
I thought about the home run derby that has been going on for the last month. Our 22 year old and his friends have been batting wiffle balls over the house. They keep score. They compete. I think about our past hiking trips and the wildlife we never managed to see. I would bet that every body of water my sons have seen has gotten something thrown in or added to it. Again, I could have said, “Have you met my sons?” and I could send a picture. I refrained. I wanted to convince her within the text of the story that such behavior was not out of the realm of eighteen year old boys. So I revised the episode.
Nan held herself still as Paul and Claire hurried up the hill to join them at the turning. But her excitement seeped out when she and Claire stepped in front of the boys. Her step turned into a skip and she flung her head back to gaze up into the sky. A little sigh escaped her. Rob laughed and poked her in the back. She expected teasing but he laughed again. Picking up a stone he threw it, aiming for one of the first of the trees that rose from the woods. Claire’s look of disapproval changed to a frown as Paul too aimed a stone at the tree.
“My baseball arm isn’t what it used to be.” Paul excused himself as his went wide of the mark.
“It never was.” Rob joked and hit the tree a second time.
The quiet of the woods was disturbed by the boys bantering voices. They threw rocks, aiming at every likely tree and keeping score of who hit the most. Rob kicked a large stick out of the path, stopped and with a grin held it in hands with a batting stance. Paul pitched a stone and Rob swung. Where it landed in the woods they could not tell, but a squirrel scurried away, as indignant as the ducks had been. The boys laughed. With the stick in hand Rob continued the walk to school. Every now and then the stick in his hand banged against a tree. Blue Jays protested at the intrusion
The boys still threw stones and banged sticks. This time I tried to use the details to bring the reader with me. I don’t always understand this compulsion in the male gender, but I do recognize it exists. I want my readers to recognize it also. Because I have a great lab rat I think I am getting closer to realistically portraying human nature.
A good lab rat might be hard to find. I think I found the best! Thanks Gwen!
“And sometimes I think about a one-and-a-half-year old child with its baby teeth still coming in, whose days on this earth were so very, very few.” (National Geographic, July 1988, page 53) The author of the article, haunted by that scene as he unearthed the remains of a 4th century town on the Island of..Read More ›
We spent a half week with all nine of the children and the twelve grandchildren. The occasion was our son’s wedding. Tears threatened when the boys, now men, stood as groomsmen for their brother. The struggle of our grandson to stay awake and the relaxed attitude in one of the boy’s suits served to prevent..Read More ›