On Becoming A Man was the title of a book I picked up at the Presbyterian Garage Sale last weekend and what a revelation it turned out to be.
Recently I had been quietly relieved that our only son seemed to be reasonably well adjusted, affable and personable. Having come from an intensely feminine household myself (only sisters, girl cousins and so forth) it came as rather a surprise to give birth to a male child after three daughters, but it was all working out for the best. Mr Shoestring was always there to sit up at nights and watch sports fixtures, he even understood the offside rule in football and he was happy to eat endless amounts of junk food with his only son.
"The remarkable growth of a teen-age boy within a single year is often a
source of astonishment to his friends and of pride to his family."
Our boy was studying during term time, working at a job during holidays, hanging out with his friends, playing lots of football, going for long runs and generally behaving in a way which did not cause us too much anxiety. He had a very lovely and friendly girlfriend too, so all seemed with his world. Although we did have the occasional disagreement about how much housework was a suitable contribution towards family life, I thought we were sailing calmly through the end of the teenage years.
"Any youth is wise who controls his special friendship so that it does
not develop too fast. Serious thoughts need not spoil his pleasant times."
But no, how wrong I was! How complacent and smug I had been. When I picked up On Becoming A Man I discovered the error of my ways. This book was so full of metaphors that (being the obtuse creature that I am), I sometimes found it difficult to understand the point which was being made. There were so many references to running in a new motor, learning to fly a jet aircraft and lending out one's new motor-cycle that I was perplexed from time to time. But the chapters on "going steady", "apron strings", "day-dreaming", "second hand day-dreams" and the dangers of "petting" were all very instructive. And it seemed that reading fiction was extremely dangerous, never mind all the other mistakes we had been making.
I presented this impressive and instructive tome to our boy and was gratified to hear his appreciative remarks. He declared it to be "classic", and he couldn't wait to share it with his friends. Perhaps it is not too late - he may have been saved in the nick of time from "the development of selfish habits or personal indulgences". Only time will tell.